Their policies are aimed at making the most of the clean-energy shift, but they also create challenges for it
Across the developing world, mineral-rich nations say they are moving to end the era of extract and export. Countries with vast deposits of the ingredients essential to making electric vehicles are digging in and trying to take a bigger share of the expected EV boom.
In parts of Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia, governments are restricting the export of raw minerals, demanding that miners build processing plants locally and looking to tighten control over foreign-operated mines. The steps are sometimes described as resource nationalism, and their increasing popularity is reshaping supply chains that underpin the shift toward cleaner forms of energy.
Indonesia banned the export of unprocessed nickel, pushing foreign companies to build billion-dollar facilities in the country that are turning ore into higher-value materials for EV batteries. Zimbabwe is trying to do the same with lithium. Leftist leaders in Chile and Mexico are seeking greater state control over their countries’ lithium reserves.
Electric vehicles require six times the mineral inputs of conventional cars, according to the International Energy Agency. The IEA estimated in a 2021 report that mineral demand for use in EVs and battery storage could grow 30 times by 2040.