Keith Phillips, CEO of mining company Piedmont Lithium, warned in a Yahoo Finance interview: “We have enough [lithium] around the world, but not in this timeframe.” Namely 2035.
It is not really lithium that is lacking on Earth. On the other hand, it is the means of extracting and processing it that are problematic. Keith Phillips, CEO of Piedmont Lithium, sounded the alarm. According to him, in an interview on Yahoo Finance, there is a lack of extraction and production plants in the world to meet the needs, among others, of the automotive industry in the medium term. “We are now in an era where everyone is going to want an electric car. Automakers can’t make them fast enough, and people are now looking for the lithium they need for the batteries of these electric cars. »
The accessible world reserves, mainly in China and South America as well as in Portugal and Sweden, could make it possible to reduce thermal sales relatively quickly by 50%, but it will be difficult to achieve this for 2030. As for the end combustion engines in Europe and the United States to replace them with electric ones in 2035, his opinion is clear: “There is going to be a real crisis in obtaining the equipment. We don’t have enough in the world to run that much [lithium] production around the world by 2035.”
It takes 8 to 10 kg of metal on average for an EV battery. Producers are already feeling with a knife in their throats following the increase in demand for electric cars in addition to the current supply worries with the conflict in Ukraine and the repeated confinements in China. In addition, governments continue to press to abandon thermal. Therefore, lithium needs will continue to grow. It will then be necessary to consider the development of new mines and infrastructures. And there, the time needed to open new extraction centers is counted in years: from 5 to 10 years. It is obvious that Keith Phillips, with this warning cry, aims to push the authorities to facilitate the opening of new mining operations to extract more lithium (and reap the profits).
It is not only necessary to obtain the administrative and environmental authorizations, but also to convince the local populations. And even if the governments wish to speed up the procedures, the reluctance of local residents and nature conservation associations could slow down the development of lithium production in certain regions. However, the mining company Piedmont Lithium, active in the United States, will open a new lithium processing plant in Tennessee. Its construction should begin in 2023 and will then process 30,000 tonnes of lithium per year. The company also plans to build another plant in North Carolina. It will then be able to supply enough lithium for 1 million electric vehicles per year.