Threatened by shortages, electric car makers race for supplies of lithium for batteries – by Joe McDonald (Washington Post – June 27, 2023)

BEIJING — Threatened by possible shortages of lithium for electric car batteries, automakers are racing to lock in supplies of the once-obscure “white gold” in a politically and environmentally fraught competition from China to Nevada to Chile.

General Motors Co. and the parent company of China’s BYD Auto Ltd. went straight to the source and bought stakes in lithium miners, a rare step in an industry that relies on outside vendors for copper and other raw materials. Others are investing in lithium refining or ventures to recycle the silvery-white metal from used batteries.

A shortfall in lithium supplies would be an obstacle for government and industry plans to ramp up sales to tens of millions of electric vehicles a year. It is fueling political conflict over resources and complaints about the environmental cost of extracting them.

“We already have that risk” of not being able to get enough, said GM’s chief financial officer, Paul A. Jacobson, at a Deutsche Bank conference in mid-June.

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