Making the global economy more environmentally sustainable will require a lot more natural resources. This is an irony the mining industry will need both to exploit and to defuse.
Electric vehicles highlight the problematic opportunity for miners. Although a Tesla or Porsche Taycan doesn’t have a tailpipe and usually generates much less carbon than a traditional car over a multiyear lifespan, its big lithium-ion battery requires more metal than an internal combustion engine.
Consulting firm Rystad Energy expects annual lithium demand from EVs and energy storage to rise by a factor of more than 20 times by 2030 compared with last year’s level.
Lithium-ion batteries also contain cobalt, nickel, copper and aluminum. And this isn’t just about batteries: Solar panels, wind turbines, charging stations and the grid infrastructure to tie them together will all need masses of metal. There is talk of a new “supercycle,” with specialist stocks such as lithium miner Albemarle pricing in astronomical growth.
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