Where Will All the Lithium Needed for Electric Cars Be Mined?

Electric Cars

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While commodity prices are experiencing a slump, lithium prices are rising due to the increasing demand for lithium-ion (Liion) batteries to power electric cars. Tesla intends to produce 500,000 battery-powered cars per year by 2020. The company’s 13.6million square foot “gigafactory”, which will once it is completed, will be the second largest building in the world by volume. Despite Tesla being the most famous electric car manufacturer, Faraday Future, Google, Apple and Google are all getting into the market for electric cars. According to oilprice.com an article claims that Apple will compete directly with Tesla by producing its own electric car. Faraday Future, a start-up in Las Vegas, plans to build a $1-billion factory and produce its first car next year. All these factories will require an estimated 100,000 tonnes of new lithium carbonate before 2021.

Where is all the lithium coming from? Because lithium is a low-concentrated mineral, traditional hard-rock mining for lithium-bearing pegmatite or spodumene can be costly and time-intensive. Evaporating highly concentrated lithium brine is the most cost-effective and easiest way to obtain lithium. To learn more about lithium mining and brining, read Lithium Mining today May Influence what you drive in the future.

North America only has one lithium mine, Albermarle Silver Peak Mine. Only one American company currently produces lithium from brine. The majority of the world’s lithium is produced in Chile from brine operations and in Australia from spodumene. China and Argentina are major producers of lithium. Technology companies in America and Asia have made it a priority to ensure a reliable and diverse supply of lithium. Many lithium claims have been leased and staked around the world. In the United States, there are currently brine operations in Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Chile and in China. Spodumene mining operations in Australia, Canada China, Finland, Serbia, China and Finland are in development. A jadarite mining operation in Serbia is in development. Mexico is developing a lithium clay-mining operation. More data is available from the U.S. Geological Survey’s 2016 Lithium Mineral Commodity Summary.

The electric car market is expected to explode, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities to improve the performance of Liion cells. This includes the ability to increase energy density and weight, decrease costs, increase recharge times, and reduce cost. The solid-electrolyte layer (SEI) on the electrodes is an area of great interest. It is formed as the cell charges or discharges. This is why it is important to understand and control. XPS depth profiling allows for chemical characterization of the complex interphase layer. This allows identification of the chemistries within the SEI.

This post was written by Justin Tidd, Director at Becker Mining Communications! For over 15 years, Becker Communications has been the industry’s leader in radio communication in tunnels and electrical mining communication systems. As they expanded into surface mining, railroads, and tunneling they added wireless communication systems, handheld radios, tagging and tracking systems, as well as gas monitoring.

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