The United States has a lithium supply problem. Nearly every major automaker has announced a transition to electric vehicles, Tesla delivered almost one million cars in 2021, and a handful of new electric vehicle companies like Rivian and Lucid are rolling new models off the line.
In order to power all of these EVs, we will need batteries — lots of them. Electric vehicle growth will be responsible for more than 90% of demand for lithium by 2030, according to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. But lithium is also in our phones, computers, ceramics, lubricants, pharmaceuticals, and is essential for solar and wind energy storage.
“It’s like the blood in your body,” said Lithium Americas CEO Jon Evans, “It’s the chemistry behind how lithium-ion batteries work. It remains the common denominator in all the battery technologies, even that we’re looking at now for next generation batteries. So it’s truly a critical element.”
This vital mineral in rechargeable batteries has earned the name “white gold” and the rush is on. The price of lithium is soaring, up 280% since Jan. 2021, and establishing a domestic supply of lithium has become the modern-day version of oil security. But today, the U.S. is far behind, with only 1% of global lithium being mined and processed in the U.S., according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
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