As more automakers in the United States transition to electric vehicles, new challenges must be addressed. Tesla, Rivian, Lucid and others all need massive amounts of batteries. Vital to their production is lithium, the price of which has risen significantly since early 2021, forcing the country to revive its own production.
According to experts at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, by 2030 more than 90% of lithium demand will be associated with electric vehicle needs. In addition, it is used in batteries for smartphones, computers, pharmaceuticals and is necessary to create energy storage for solar and wind power plants. It is well known that lithium has earned the name “white gold” in the industry and the real “gold rush” is just beginning.
Since January 2021, the price of lithium has increased by 280% and building its own capacity in the country has become a modern guarantor of “energy security”. However, the US accounts for only 1% of lithium mining and production today. More than 80% of the metal is mined in China, Australia and Chile. At the same time, China controls more than half of the world’s lithium production and processing, accounting for 3/4 of all lithium-ion battery manufacturing factories in the world, according to the International Energy Agency. It is noteworthy that the United States was the leader in the industry until the early 90s of the last century.
According to industry experts, this is where global lithium production began, which has worked successfully for around 50 years. The problem is that now it is difficult to organize the publication at competitive prices.
Lithium is not a rare element – the United States has almost 8 million tons of reserves, according to this indicator the country is among the top five countries in the world. However, the only active lithium mine remains here. Last year, the Presidential Administration released a plan to explode lithium production, processing and battery production. Several national projects are already under development in Nevada, North Carolina, California and Arkansas, among others. It plans to both break new ground and give old ones a second life, and by 2030, 50% of all cars sold in the US will be electric.
However, many projects face opposition from environmentalists, the public and even local authorities. Many projects have reportedly stalled due to multiple court cases, permitting issues, opposition from conservationists and even Indigenous Indians in areas where development is planned.