A global shortage of lithium – the metal mineral crucial for modern rechargeable battery design – may put the brakes on the development of new electric cars.
Market analysts Benchmark Mineral Intelligence (BMI) is predicting an “acute” shortage of lithium from 2022 onwards, according to Reuters. That shortage of supply could derail the stated plans of a majority of Europe’s carmakers as they seek to create all-electric line-ups by the end of the decade.
“Unless we see significant and imminent investment into large, commercially viable lithium deposits, these shortages will extend out to the end of the decade,” said George Miller of BMI. Part of the problem is that although the value of lithium has gone up in recent years, that rise hasn’t yet been enough to trigger major investments in new mining operations.
There are also complications with opening up new mines, not least the environmental impacts of those very mines. Rio Tinto, one of the world’s biggest mining companies, recently announced plans for a vast new lithium mining project near Loznica in Serbia.
The announcement caused a storm of protest from locals, who say that Rio Tinto is only paying lip service to concerns over noise and water pollution in the area.