Weakest link to EV growth is the material supply chain

There may not be enough minerals and metals in the world to achieve the planned EV growth

By Ronald Stein

Ambassador for Energy & Infrastructure, Irvine, California

The worldwide plans for EV domination of the vehicle population are like having the plans to build a large house without sufficient materials being available to ever finish the house.

The pressure to go green is increasing as countries are announcing plans to phase out petrol and diesel cars. Germany will stop the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars from 2030, Scotland from 2032, and France and the UK from 2040.

Even California, the current leader in America with 50 percent of the EV’s in country being in that state, has jumped onto the EV train with Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, who will be on the 2021 Recall ballot, issued an Executive Order in 2020 to ban the sale of gas-powered vehicles in California by 2035.

A Tesla lithium EV battery weighs more than 1,000 pounds. While there are dozens of variations, such an EV battery typically contains about:

  • 25 pounds of lithium,
  • 30 pounds of cobalt,
  • 60 pounds of nickel,
  • 110 pounds of graphite,
  • 90 pounds of copper,

Looking upstream at the ore grades, one can estimate the typical quantity of rock that must be extracted from the earth and processed to yield the pure minerals needed to fabricate that single battery: 

  • Lithium brines typically contain less than 0.1% lithium, so that entails some 25,000 pounds of brines to get the 25 pounds of pure lithium.
  • Cobalt ore grades average about 0.1%, thus nearly 30,000 pounds of ore to get 30 pounds of cobalt. 
  • Nickel ore grades average about 1%, thus about 6,000 pounds of ore to get 60 pounds of nickel.
  • Graphite ore is typically 10%, thus about 1,000 pounds per battery to get 100 pounds of graphite.
  • Copper at about 0.6% in the ore, thus about 25,000 pounds of ore per battery to get 90 pounds of copper.

In total then, acquiring just these five elements to produce the 1,000-pound EV battery requires mining about 90,000 pounds of ore. To properly account for all the earth moved though—which is relevant to the overall environmental footprint, and mining machinery energy use—one needs to estimate the overburden, or the materials first dug up to get to the ore. Depending on ore type and location, overburden ranges from about 3 to 20 tons of earth removed to access each ton of ore. 

This means that accessing about 90,000 pounds of ore requires digging and moving between 200,000 and over 1,500,000 pounds of earth—a rough average of more than 500,000 pounds of ore per battery.

According to Cambridge University Emeritus Professor of Technology Michael Kelly, replacing all the United Kingdom’s 32 million light duty vehicles with next-generation EVs would require huge quantities of materials to manufacture 32 million EV batteries:

  • more than 50 percent of the world’s annual production of copper.
  • 200 percent of its annual cobalt.
  • 75 percent yearly lithium carbonate output; and
  • nearly 100 percent of its entire annual production of neodymium. 

One can easily see that the world may not have enough minerals and metals for the EV batteries to support the EV growth projections roadmap when you consider that today:

Today, there are less than 8 million EV’s operating on the world’s highways. If EV projections come to reality by 2035, 5 to 7 percent of the 2 billion vehicles would equate to 125 million EV’s on the world’s roads, and potentially double that number if governments step up the pace of legislative change.  However, looking at the UK study of the materials required for only 32 million EV batteries, there may not be enough materials in the world to finish the EV conversion plans.

Further bad news is that a single digit penetration into the worlds projected 2 billion vehicles would also represent more than 125 BILLION pounds of lithium-ion batteries, just from those 125 million EV’s that will need to be disposed of in the decades ahead.

Zero and low emission vehicles are generally from the hybrid and electric car owners which are a scholarly bunch; over 70 percent of EV owners have a four-year college or post-graduate degree. This likely explains why the average household income of EV purchasers is upwards of $200,000. If you are not in that higher educated echelon and the high-income range of society, and a homeowner or resident of a NEW apartment that has charging access there may not be an appetite for an EV.

A recent 2021 California study shows that EV’s are driven half as much as internal combustion engine vehicles which further illustrates that EV’s are generally 2nd vehicles and not the primary workhorse vehicle for those few elites that can afford them.

Getting back to those plans to build a large house with an insufficient supply of materials to ever complete the house, maybe we should learn from the UK study of the materials required for only 32 million EV batteries (less than 7 percent of 2 billion vehicles in 2035) and set our sights on achieving an EV population that the world’s supply of the minerals and metals can support.

Ronald Stein, P.E.

Ambassador for Energy & Infrastructure

Intro – ENERGY MADE EASY (energyliteracy.net)

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Joel O'Bryan
February 15, 2021 10:14 pm

We call that, “Well Duh!!”

The bleedin’ obvious comes home after the Millennial kiddies have been indoctrinated to scam that renewables are the future. A dystopian future only because it is the one they have chosen. Other futures are possible. Futures with abundant energy from hydrocarbons.

Now the kiddies are about to find that the only way to renewable batteries and wind + solar are through environmental destruction and expensive energy, a destruction writ large and enabled with child labor in Central Africa in the cobalt mines. And an expense that for that energy that only the richest elites (Gates, Bezos, Soros, Steyer, Bloomberg, Rockefellers) and their government bought cronies will afford.

February 15, 2021 10:23 pm

Appreciate the wake up, of course the impact of mining these relatively “rare” metals will be many times greater than current mining efforts. If demand does soar (ie the world doesn’t come to its senses), then the average grade of ore will almost certainly fall, so the grades you quote will be replaced with much lower grades, resulting in a steady increase in effort, energy and environmental impact to get the same amount of product. A vicious cycle in many ways, never mind the egregious methods used to mine some of the “blood metals” for example.

Reply to  Gordo
February 16, 2021 1:15 am

We also need the electric to power EV’s. I don’t know where that is coming from


Reply to  tonyb
February 16, 2021 3:01 am

In Australia mostly from fossil fuelled generators.

Reply to  tonyb
February 16, 2021 7:51 am

I wonder what materials are going to be needed to build all the extra distribution network. Power lines, distribution stations, etc.

And that’s before we calculate all the extra materials that go into building all the extra power sources. Be they wind, solar, coal, gas or nuclear.

Reply to  MarkW
February 16, 2021 4:38 pm

Include the high cost of closing and demolition of liquid fuel supply facilities, and the loss of ICEV value for owners.

Brian Jackson
Reply to  Gordo
February 16, 2021 2:11 am

Great contribution Ron, you got it dead right. As a Mining Engineer of 50yrs experience I can say for sure that the energy expended hunting down and mining ever declining ore grades, will far outweigh any energy saved in the EV’s. Plus, the costs will increase exponentially, because of the exponentially larger and larger volumes of overburden that have to be removed to expose the ore, at ever increasing depths. These costs will stop the EV rush in its tracks. Only the rich will be able to afford a car. Volume car production will simply stop, unless the madness stops and we return to something like rational behavior.
Brian j.

Ron Long
Reply to  Brian Jackson
February 16, 2021 5:22 am

You are absolutely correct about the soaring costs, Brian. As a life-long mineral exploration geologist I have encountered undeveloped ore grades of all of the elements you mention, however, they were in corrupt countries, with difficult metallurgy, and sometimes in settings where a social license to operate a mine was impossible. As per this report, it looks like the Green Weenie crowd, et al, are rushing forward into a deepening disaster.

Reply to  Brian Jackson
February 16, 2021 5:40 pm

Piling on to what Ron added, these third world developing nations don’t exactly have a thriving infrastructure, legal, economical, social and educational base to build and maintain such an infrastructure. This will likely require an advanced and aggressive nation (e.g. China) to colonize and take-over the region, who will, by their own standards of environmental stewardship and humanitarian concerns, exploit the hell out of everything involved.

Phil Rae
February 15, 2021 10:53 pm

Nice article, Ron! It shows, in detail, what most of us on this site know, either intuitively or from knowledge on the material science, to be the case.

It would be nice if even one of the mainstream media outlets would tell the general public the facts about this heinous scam being committed by governments and green ideologues.

Keep up the good work.

February 15, 2021 11:01 pm

Try telling this to your government and see if you get a sensible (or any) response.

Reply to  Phillip Bratby
February 16, 2021 3:02 am

In my many experiences either an acknowledgement and no other comment or a government propaganda media-type release statement.

And membership of the mushroom club.

February 15, 2021 11:14 pm

Filled my car up yesterday. 450 miles since last tank, odometer reckoned another 60 miles in the tank.
THAT range is the biggest obstacle to EVs together with the massive grid upgrades needed.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Leo Smith
February 15, 2021 11:29 pm

On Sunday, I drove 900 miles from Provo, Utah to So Arizona in one shot, 12 hours, 900 miles. Could not have done that one batteries in an EV.
Even if the grid had been able, the batteries could not.

Joseph Campbell
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
February 16, 2021 7:24 am

Cooperative enroute cops !

Reply to  Joseph Campbell
February 16, 2021 7:54 am

That’s only 75mph. Most interstates out west have that as the set speed limit.
Most of the time you can go 5mph over the speed limit without worrying about the cops.

Reply to  Leo Smith
February 16, 2021 3:03 am

Imagination travelling by EV during a national holiday period.

Reply to  Dennis
February 16, 2021 5:55 am

With four people, luggage, in freezing temperatures, with the heater on, the windscreen wipers on and the headlights on plus the radio. Lets hope the route isn’t hilly


Reply to  Leo Smith
February 16, 2021 6:37 am

And it only took 5 min to add 450 mile range to your car, not 12 hours.

Richard (the cynical one)
February 15, 2021 11:15 pm

Because of the intolerable cost in human suffering and environmental degradation needed to produce an EV, there is no way I would drive one, even if it were given to me, and I can’t help but feel a degree of contempt for those who have paid even the highly subsidized balance for one. If you have one, I spit on your feet.

Reply to  Richard (the cynical one)
February 16, 2021 3:05 am

In Australia many or most of the few EV registered are company vehicles, leased for executives, and the Federal Government has gifted leasing firms $300 million to promote EV to fleet operators.

Climate believer
February 15, 2021 11:19 pm

I see Jaguar want to go 100% electric in 2025.

Reply to  Climate believer
February 16, 2021 12:25 am

And will go bust.

Reply to  Climate believer
February 16, 2021 2:04 am

How do you get an electric Landrover to cross the Sahara?

Reply to  Oldseadog
February 16, 2021 3:44 am

On the tray of a 4WD flat bed Diesel engine truck?

Sal Minella
Reply to  Oldseadog
February 16, 2021 5:45 am

You could tow a trailer equipped with a diesel generator.

Reply to  Sal Minella
February 16, 2021 4:43 pm

And another trailer for eating and sleeping in while waiting for recharging to finish

Reply to  Climate believer
February 16, 2021 2:25 am

And Land Rover.

February 16, 2021 12:26 am

We have ten years supply of cobalt and lithium and 100+ years of oil. I’ll wait.

Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
February 16, 2021 2:52 am

End Of The Age Of Abundance, the book, points out that coal should now be reserved for liquid fuel production in the future, use nuclear energy and/or thorium molten salts reactor technology for electricity generation (hydro where practical).

Reply to  Dennis
February 16, 2021 8:00 am

We have 400 years of oil and gas, closer to 1000 years for coal.

Now compare the technology of today to the technology available 400 and 1000 years ago.

Worrying about how people 400 and 1000 years from now are going to solve a problem is a fool’s errand. The best use of that oil, gas and coal is to use it today in order to create the wealth that will give our descendants the resources to solve this problem in their time.

Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
February 16, 2021 7:57 am

That’s 10 years of supply at current consumption rates. The proposal means the consumption rate is going up by several orders of magnitude.
Closer to 400+ years of oil.

Vincent Causey
February 16, 2021 12:50 am

FYI, the UK is to eliminate the sale of new ICE cars by 2030 not 2040. It was originally to be 2040, then brought forward to 2035 by Theresa May after the first XR insurrection, then not to be outdone, to 2030 by Bojo.

Chris Wright
Reply to  Vincent Causey
February 16, 2021 4:38 am

One of the reasons why I will never again vote for Boris.

Reply to  Chris Wright
February 16, 2021 6:07 am

Vote Boris, get Princess NutNutz (UK’s answer to Alexandria Occasional Cortex)

To be fair I think that making decade-out promises is good virtue signalling politics even when you know its utter testicles. Boris has a virus and a bureaucracy to fight without taking on the greens right now. Or his ‘fiancée’…

..and in due course when the blackouts happen, like the Americans, Boris can be relied upon to do the right thing….

…after he has exhausted all other alternatives…

Rolls Royce, in dire trouble over jet engines, is assembling all it needs to do to make simple bog-standard small modular boring old pressurised water reactors running of the fuel they all know and love…uranium.

I think that amongst technical people there is a growing tacit assumption that whilst it’s too early to cry ‘testicles’ on Climate Change, having an oven-ready resonably priced zero carbon energy source that works is a smart move.

Gerry, England
Reply to  Chris Wright
February 17, 2021 10:52 am

The problem is the lack of any sensible alternative. Labour are going down the Woke route and focusing on minority issues so making themselves unelectable.

February 16, 2021 1:01 am

Increased demand produces increased supply: there are already multiple new lithium mining sites opening up worldwide.

I see that producing batteries without cobalt is being trialled.

Look at how oil production moved offshore and into the arctic…

Krishna Gans
Reply to  griff
February 16, 2021 9:01 am

You may have enough wood for a house, but the nails are out 😀

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  griff
February 16, 2021 9:44 am

Yes, as the price of a commodity increases as a result of increasing demand, marginal supplies can be developed. However, that means the price of the product — EV battery — increases. So, the consumer pays more for less, and has less discretionary spending left over. However, that can’t go on indefinitely. Eventually, the cost becomes prohibitive and substitutes have to be found (typically degrading performance), or a different technology has to be developed.

Just because something is being tried doesn’t mean it will be successful. There may be some breakthroughs in battery technology, but it doesn’t look all that promising. It is best to plan on what is known, rather than what is hoped.

You once again demonstrate that you uncritically accept the propaganda of the Green Agenda, probably because of your limited understanding of the Big Picture, or your ideological bias — maybe both!

Bill Toland
Reply to  griff
February 16, 2021 10:23 am

Griff, I didn’t realise that you were so supportive of the mining and oil industries.

Reply to  griff
February 16, 2021 1:11 pm

And in the meantime, griffies fellow conspirators are doing everything in their power to make sure that no new mines are opened, anywhere.

Reply to  griff
February 17, 2021 9:35 am

Griff, please take a basic course in Micro Economics and start with the “Law of Supply and Demand”.
 You keep using that word; I do not think it means what you think it means.” -Inigo Montoya

Reply to  griff
February 18, 2021 11:22 am

There is a legislative block on practical EV batteries that work at usual ambient temperatures, are affordable, and do not self destruct. When GM was finished with their EV-1 experiment, the battery technology was sold to Chevron. They locked it up by insisting on long production runs for Nicad automotive battery sales. Since the market was never allowed to develop, the batteries will not be available either. Toyota tried with their proprietary batteries for the RAV SUV developed in Japan. They were fined $300 million to discourage such efforts.

February 16, 2021 1:09 am

Every now and then I do a web search for ammonia fuel stories from the last month. example example Ammonia has its own set of problems but it does solve a whole bunch of other problems. For example, ammonia can be used in combustion engines and thereby obviates the need for batteries and fuel cells.

The shipping industry is particularly interested in ammonia fuel and my guess is that their motivation, which I haven’t seen explicitly stated, is that they can continue using their diesel engined fleet. They could just change fuel tanks rather than having to scrap a whole ship.

The first linked example above refers to Japan’s plans to burn ammonia along with coal in electric power plants. The initial plans would lead to a 20% reduction in CO2 produced. It doesn’t sound ambitious but it does make evident that coal will be an important part of the fuel mix for the foreseeable future.

It’s not at all obvious that, for reasons stated in the story above, lithium batteries are the solution to the problems of renewable energy.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  commieBob
February 16, 2021 9:46 am

Is burning ammonia a tradeoff between CO2 and NOx?

Jean Parisot
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
February 16, 2021 12:52 pm

Sure, but NOx isn’t a magic molecule (yet).

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Jean Parisot
February 17, 2021 11:19 am

I do see NOx mentioned occasionally. It just doesn’t get the press that CO2 does.

February 16, 2021 1:10 am

Also the short life of batteries at about 5-8years compared to a well maintained combustion engine easily 40 plus years. At the same time massive battery storage required for renewable power storage to support the grid. Question, can the battery components be effectively recycled.

Bill Toland
February 16, 2021 1:40 am

The article doesn’t mention that increased demand for these raw materials will inevitably push up their price. This will make electric cars even more unaffordable for the average person. Some greens see this as a feature, not a bug. The stated aim of a number of prominent greens is to reduce the number of cars on the road. The best way to achieve this is to make cars affordable only for the rich; the peasants can make do with public transport.

Reply to  Bill Toland
February 16, 2021 2:44 am

What public transport ??? that’s only for urbanites.
Useful public transport is not available in most country areas.

I live 24 miles from our nearest hospital (~35 mins by car)
Fastest public transport to the hospital takes 2hrs 17mins.
First public transport from our village (a 3 miles walk away) is at 9:22.
So if I have a 10 AM appointment on Wed …
I would have to leave the house ~8AM Tues !!

Reply to  saveenergy
February 16, 2021 4:25 am

I live 24 miles from our nearest hospital (~35 mins by car). Fastest public transport to the hospital takes 2hrs 17mins.

Can’t you just wait for the ambulance or don’t the electric cables stretch that far?

Reply to  saveenergy
February 16, 2021 6:15 am

use a taxi or call the public ambulance thingie. I was amazed that there is on the NHS a service to take you home for free after an emergency visit to the hospital…in an ambulance.

Reply to  Bill Toland
February 16, 2021 2:55 am

Great Reset, build back better, new green deal.

Control and manage the people, steal their assets and make them welfare (living wage) dependent, travel outside of immediate home area by permit only.

Reply to  Bill Toland
February 16, 2021 6:13 am

I suspect that, looking at stuff that almost works, the future for urban and suburban plebbery will be Uber summoned driverless electric cars that drive themselves to charge points, where they sit until needed…

…most people will be unable to actually drive, which is probably a huge step forward in road safety…

Reply to  Leo Smith
February 16, 2021 8:05 am

If you can imagine why most people buy their own cars, even though taxis are currently available, then you will be able to understand why driverless electric cars are not an improvement.

Gerry, England
Reply to  MarkW
February 17, 2021 10:57 am

Driverless cars are another unaffordable fantasy. The infrastructure needed for them to ‘see’ where they are going is too costly. And they will kill people as they don’t possess human abilities. Consider aircraft – who lands the plane when it is really windy with crosswinds? The living pilot.

Andy Ogilvie
Reply to  Bill Toland
February 16, 2021 9:30 am

That’s the plan, they’re not expecting 32 million electric cars on UK roads. A few hundred thousand at best, for the rich who can afford them. The rest of us may be allowed the privilege of push bikes or overcrowded buses and trains. Welcome to building back better ………. and by the way you’re welcome to it

Jan de Jong
February 16, 2021 2:25 am

No new ICE cars after 2030? A solid second hand ICE vehicle may finally become a good investment instead of a wasting asset…

Reply to  Jan de Jong
February 16, 2021 6:08 am

Can you imagine the ICE sales in 2028 and 2029? The bozos haven’t really thought this through. Or maybe they have and they figure they won’t be around in power by then.

Gerry, England
Reply to  observa
February 17, 2021 11:00 am

I just hope the factories will be geared up for the surge in demand. I wonder if ICE-carjacking will be a growth crime?

Rod Evans
February 16, 2021 2:34 am

I come from the school of engineering that says, if a product is designed to fail it must fail as designed.
Normally, items so engineered are there to stop a catastrophic event. Pressure relief valves bursting discs, weak links, sheer pins etc.
Now we have a complete reversal of that safety principle.
We now have systems being adopted that engineers know, will fail. Worse they will fail, precisely when they are supposed to provide reliable life saving/impacting service.
Engineering institutes, are now willingly party to a movement in vehicle design, and energy provision generally, that will not only fail, but fail with huge human casualties.
It is very disturbing..
When your need for reliable power is at its greatest, i.e. during severe weather events, the fragile but mandated weather dependent generating systems will fail. It’s incredible to think, but sadly a fact, the authorities who mandated such energy fragile systems know that will be the case?
It is worse when you remember, the prime driver of engineering is resilience and reliability. Not any longer it would seem.
The old fit for purpose principle, was a reasonable guide for designers. Ultimately replaced by Deming and others promoting reduction in variation via statistical manufacturing controls to achieve ever better quality products. The Deming cycle, Plan, Do, Check it, Act, is now part of basic manufacturing practice. The objective always being, less variation equals less failures in the field, leading to greater customer satisfaction.
Now we have a movement, championed by the Climate Alarmists and advanced by socialists to knowingly, yes knowingly, make systems society relies upon, less resilient with uncertainty being built into every aspect of our lives. Their guiding cycle is, Plan to Do but Check it Fails
Deming would be turning in his grave if he could see what is going on here in the twenty first century. People are in real danger of freezing to death, because unreliability and variation, is now built into every public service. That is what’s being promoted by government for our uncertain future.
Why are the engineering institutions allowing this?

Joseph Campbell
Reply to  Rod Evans
February 16, 2021 7:45 am

One reason (certainly not the entire reason) is that engineering schools are now an “industry”. Turning out graduates, not necessarily engineers, is the metric now…

Reply to  Rod Evans
February 16, 2021 8:06 am

Most institutions, including scientific and engineering ones, have been taken over by the woke.

Reply to  Rod Evans
February 18, 2021 11:29 am

Go back to First Principles. In this case, “You can’t fight City Hall”……not even when it has been hijacked by the UN.

February 16, 2021 2:59 am

Stop arguing about transition to renewable energy, electric vehicles and all the other political theatre and find out what the propaganda smokescreens and mirrors are really about.

Like ending industrialisation in developed nations in favour of developing nations like China, controlling and managing people in the world with no borders, one world government.

Discover what the Fabians plan and then research modern times beginning with United Nations infiltration by the globalist leftists.

Alasdair Fairbairn
Reply to  Dennis
February 16, 2021 4:03 am

Yes indeed. When you look at the political statements, the agendas, the tactics and the gross suppression of information etc. emanating from the top down these conclusions are obvious.

Alasdair Fairbairn
February 16, 2021 4:13 am

In addition one may well ask by what means this 500,000 Lbs of earth needed for my EV battery is to be moved. Will it be by a raft of mega batteries fed by wind turbines or will it be by Congo Kids fed from biomass scraped from the ground?

February 16, 2021 4:28 am

Remember “We have to pass the bill to see what is in the bill.”? Well, “We have to destroy the environment to save the environment.” is clearly the new normal.

Peta of Newark
February 16, 2021 5:27 am

“”blah blah…. requires digging and moving between 200,000 and over 1,500,000 pounds of earth—a rough average of more than 500,000 pounds of ore per battery“”

So, 30 million new UK Light Vehicles will produce about 7 Gigatonnes tonnes of ‘waste earth’
Is that a problem? How is that a problem – humans already move 60 Gigatonnes annually ‘ just scratching around’
Sorry, I digressed.

That much ‘earth’ or crunched up rock as it actually is, would be sufficient to re-mineralise the entire corn growing area of the US (go in at a rate of 75 tonnes per acre)
You’d only need do it once, do somewhere else next year.
MAYBE, come back after 25 or 30 years.

You’d be in for a hideous shock.
The snow would melt and not come back, Arctic cold and snow really would be a distant memory.
The summers would be pleasant and warm, not hellish hot.
The Polar Vortex would stay, quelle shocke horreur, at The Pole
In short, The Climate would change.

Just like picky young girls in shops, supermarkets and dinner tables discarding the fat & gristle ** in the their food, in mining all that stuff, we are actually throwing The Good Stuff away. ##

Pythonesque in extremis

## Apart from the Lithium, = a vital element for maintaining mental health.
And just like its chemical siblings sodium & potassium, is one of THE first things to disappear in rapidly eroding (tilled, plowed, cultivated, nitrogen-fertilised) soils and ancient ‘earth’
Might explain a few things doncha think…

** Gristle being= Connective tissue being = Collagen = Animal protein
Its what holds us together, especially our joints, connects muscles to bone and esp important for the girls as they age, it holds our skin (complexion) together.
Slows the onset of ‘dry skin’ and wrinkles. For boys also.

Because if the girls don’t feel ‘pretty’ or ‘attractive’, how might that affect the very thing that they were made pretty & attractive for in the first place?
ho hum, yet more babies bite the dust even before they’ve been conceived..

Add that into the dysfunctions, disorders and mental midgetry that Lithium deficiency creates, how the fook are the girls ever going to find a GSOH – the very thing they all aspire to as an aid in in the biz of baby making.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Peta of Newark
February 16, 2021 9:56 am

If you have ever bought crushed rock or screened gravel by tonnage, then you would realize that you are primarily paying for a haulage fee. The farther a corn field is from the quarry, the more it will cost to apply it. There comes a point where it doesn’t make sense to pay for the ‘mineralizer.’ However, the waste rock from mining operations may contain undesirable levels of toxic heavy metals, or have sulfides present that will affect the pH of the field as they oxidize.

February 16, 2021 5:48 am

You can double all of the material inputs because the rest of the economy will have to work overtime to pay for the tax credits for the rich and spending programs for the designated losing sectors. Heads I go tax free, tails you pay the costs.

February 16, 2021 6:06 am

GM recently announced that they were going to stop producing any internal-combustion engined cars by 2035… if I were a stockholder, my first question would be “where are you going to get all the batteries needed for just a year’s production?” Second question would be, “How are you going to keep costs of vehicles down when raw material costs are going through the roof?”

It’s a plan with failure written all over it, and somebody needs to tell Ms. Barra that she’s (metaphorically) naked.

Reply to  Don
February 16, 2021 1:14 pm

If I were a stockholder, my first question would be
“What’s my broker’s phone number?”

February 16, 2021 6:48 am

Yes but if we wish really really hard, this problem will vanish. Right?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Wescom
February 16, 2021 9:58 am

Disney’s First Law: Wish and it will come true!

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
February 16, 2021 11:46 am

Yes but the time frame keeps catching me out, I am still waiting for the mini sub that was advertised on the back of comics in the 1960s

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  ross
February 17, 2021 11:21 am

Maybe you aren’t wishing hard enough!

Håkon Strømme
February 16, 2021 7:06 am

Nice article and elaborate calculations. But just out of interest, shouldn’t there be some assumptions about material reuse? All those metals, are they completely lost once the vehicle is taken out of operation?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Håkon Strømme
February 16, 2021 10:00 am

Have you found anyone that will take old electronics off your hands without you paying them?

Few things are actually designed with the idea of them being re-cycled, thus it becomes very problematic. If the wrong elements get in the pot it can ruin everything.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
February 16, 2021 1:16 pm

I would imagine that batteries that are designed for recycling would end up being bigger, heavier and less efficient.

Reply to  Håkon Strømme
February 16, 2021 7:22 pm

According to a Nov 2019 MIT report on BEV vs ICE vehicles there is currently no economical way to recycle Lithium batteries.
And doing a total life cycle of the cars [from mining the minerals to recycling the car at end-of-life] that BEV will not be cost equivalent to an ICE for ~ 10 years.

John Kelly
February 16, 2021 7:31 am

It is just wonderful news for the mining industry. This EV rubbish will sustain us for decades to come.

February 16, 2021 8:42 am

One need only look at the fiasco of the electricity shortage in Texas due to frozen wind turbines to understand that lefties don’t have the first clue about energy production. How does Texas fail to take advantage of their abundant natural gas to supply their electric grid? But I digress.

The shortage of materials required to make batteries for electric vehicles is another example of lefties failing to understand the fatal flaws in their strategy. When we look at lefty strategies we see failure after failure and still these bozos are setting our policies. It is time to send them back to academia where they can theorize forever but let realistic, practical business types run the show.

Electric vehicles are not at all environmentally friendly, they are another disaster.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  sunnyvaleken
February 17, 2021 11:25 am

I have observed that when engineers are tasked with designing an efficient product, they usually do a pretty good job. On the other hand, when politicians get involved and have input on the design constraints, it turns out to be a disaster.

I’m reminded of the old joke about a camel being an animal designed by a committee.

Krishna Gans
February 16, 2021 8:59 am

Nothing new there, the use of at least a pocket calculator is an unknown adventure for all the “Green “Energeticers””.

Clyde Spencer
February 16, 2021 9:22 am

“Looking upstream at the ore grades, one can estimate the typical quantity of rock that must be extracted from the earth and processed to yield the pure minerals needed to fabricate that single battery:”

Your estimates are an optimistic lower-bound because there is often a requirement to strip overburden to get access to the actual ore. When the ore is in veins or pipe-like intrusions, and is mined with an open pit, the pit has to be widened as it goes deeper to stabilize the walls. Thus, a geometrically increasing volume of rock has to be blasted and removed. The tonnage removed is directly related to the amount of energy expended to obtain the ore. A problem that is usually overlooked is that as the waste rock is broken and removed, it has to be dumped somewhere outside the pit. The volume of the broken rock is greater than the original solid rock. So, a not insignificant amount of land has to be dedicated to the ‘mountain’ of waste rock.

Bill Rocks
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
February 16, 2021 10:09 am

Clyde Spencer,

Nice photo. I like reality and landscapes.

Bingham Pit? Just a wild guess. Been a long time.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Bill Rocks
February 17, 2021 11:29 am

Yes, it is Bingham Canyon. What the picture fails to convey, and I was so impressed with when I visited in person, was that I observed the dump trucks, with wheels that are 8 or 10 feet in diameter, appear as small specks on the top of the waste-rock piles, noted primarily by the dust cloud they raise when dumping their loads.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
February 16, 2021 1:20 pm

Beyond that, when the mining is done, the crushed rock has to be carted back from wherever it was stored and used to fill in the hole.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  MarkW
February 17, 2021 11:34 am

Holes of this size are rarely back-filled. The energy cost would be so high that companies couldn’t supply the commodity (copper in this case), at costs that consumers could afford, and it would take years to move, and the temporary storage areas wouldn’t look the same as originally anyway.

Ron Gaudry
February 16, 2021 9:39 am

even weaker is the generating capacity to power all these electric cars needed to start building massive dependable generating plants yesterday

Reply to  Ron Gaudry
February 16, 2021 1:21 pm

Not just the generating capacity, but the entire electrical grid has to be upgraded in order to move that electricity from plant to home.

emilia Scott
February 16, 2021 9:52 am

Christ Ronald, if you are going to constantly quote the science and the facts this will never get done. We have to lie and cover up the facts if we are going to achieve our utopian (or is it dystopian) dream (or nightmare) and all the mining environmentalists will be losing their minds over over all that environement destroyedd by mining. what about the social impact on the indigenous populations that usually live near these mines? Have you no empathy for them? The green new deal is looking more and more like the brown new deal. You can’t make EV’s with dirty old technology. Oh and where is all this electricity coming from??? Yeah tell it to California and Texas.

Carlo, Monte
February 16, 2021 11:32 am

Don’t forget all the plastics that come from petroleum refining needed for wire insulation and holding all the small batteries together.

And the miles of external copper wiring needed to connect charging outlets that have to go just about everywhere.

Clyde Spencer
February 16, 2021 12:02 pm
Kit P
February 16, 2021 12:14 pm

We do need a museum of bad ideas to explain to each new generation why what sounds like a good idea is a path to epic failure. This where I predict you will find EV, solar panels, and wind turbines in 2040.

The best I can determine the reason to have solar panels or an EV is to tell people you have solar or EV. At least so far I have not found anyone that refutes this.

Being unique is a certain status symbol. This status goes away if they become commonplace.

First summer job in college was at a UAW union factory in ’68. Lot of Detroit muscle in the parking lot. But there was one VW bug. The owner could not shut up about the good milage. Then someone started adding gas to his tank as a joke. Everyone was in on it. Then they stopped and started siphoning gas out. The owner finally took the VW back to the dealer.

The dealer thought he was crazy. He did sound crazy.

Along those lines, a cute coed had a VW bug. I offered to change the antifreeze. She was very grateful.

The point is that there are ‘smart’ clueless people.

I did not plan my retirement and really enjoying it. That said I have noticed there is a huge deviation between what people plan and what they do.

Farther down the delusional scale is politicians who plan for me to do something that is a bad idea. The only thing that will happen if the manufacture of ICE is banned, is business will boom for those who know how to keep things running.

The engine in my boat is 45 years old. The engine in my car is almost 30 years old. The diesel engine in the 22 years. Engines last longer than politicians.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Kit P
February 18, 2021 4:49 pm

It has been said that “Life is what happens while you are making plans.”

Robert of Texas
February 16, 2021 12:25 pm

There are other considerations as well. EV’s cost more and as the cost of materials skyrockets no one short of upper-middle class will be able to afford one. Meanwhile, the owners are paying no gasoline taxes to maintain roads and infrastructure. This will either have to be taken in in a yearly “EV” tax or added to the overhead on electric bills, meaning everyone pays whether they own an EV or not.

Obviously there has to be huge infrastructure changes to recharge such vehicles, and it isn’t just adding charge-up stations but power lines and power plants. Who pays for all of this?

Their entire plan is built around the typical “and a miracle occurs here” deign philosophy – they are counting on battery breakthroughs and motor breakthroughs. They are hopeful that mining so much material will be done without increasing CO2 emissions – no plan just hope.

And meanwhile, they are making it harder and harder to actually mine these materials in the U.S. so all this will be done to third world countries desperate for money. All in the name of a hopeless effort to control climate based on erroneous ideas about CO2.

Reply to  Robert of Texas
February 16, 2021 5:46 pm

EV’s cost more and as the cost of materials skyrockets no one short of upper-middle class will be able to afford one

That is a feature, not a bug. Policy makers (aka Philosopher Kings) have deemed travel by the unenlightened as unnecessary and even a hostile act to The Climate® so pricing out individual transportation is their compromise to just denying purchase / ownership permits.

Don Thompson
February 16, 2021 1:14 pm

Assuming, arguendo, that climate change is an emergency, the use of minerals for EV is just one part of the materials requirements. The “environmentally friendly” wind and solar power installations and their storage batteries will demand much, more. Then there are the back-up power plants to overcome the intermittency problems and the power transmission system and back-up (gas?) turbines to demand during supply interruptions. The costs, environmental damage and economic disruptions required would be enormous.

All this, rather than using natural gas to transition to nuclear technologies and (perhaps) development of geothermal. I am hopeful that a few disruptions in California, Australia, Germany and other countries will prompt a dramatic change in direction.

February 16, 2021 2:37 pm

There have been electric trains for donkeys’ years, and they have one common feature – they don’t use battery power. They use grid power supplied along the length of the railway line. This has advantages (no range limit, lighter trains, no re-charging delays) and disadvantages (more infrastructure, dangerous power lines). But it surely shows that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, otherwise there would be battery trains. Well, it seems there are now a number of battery trains on the drawing board. Here’s one: https://insideevs.com/news/397585/alstom-first-battery-electric-trains/. What’s that thing sticking up at the back of the train, touching the overhead wires?

February 16, 2021 2:44 pm

Granted this is about rarity going forward. But what’s the actual difference, the marginal substistution? Surely the power plant in the ICE vehicle also has a tailing pile in it’s history. And as a percent of overall material weight?

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  zack
February 16, 2021 5:33 pm

It’s about specialty materials and rare earths, both for the EVs and the wind and solar to power them, none of which currently exist in major quantities
Whatever cost is today as you try to ramp ev production their will be a demand crunch and the raw materials will sky rocket

Most people only buy EVs now if they
Are subsidized due to cost

Govt mandates are going to push that through the roof

February 16, 2021 4:41 pm

Australian governments now require EV to display a blue sticker on front and rear registration plates so that traffic authorities are alerted to the danger of exothermic reaction lithium ion battery inferno potential.

February 16, 2021 6:05 pm

Well you are massively underestimating the ore required.

You are basing your grades based on existing deposits, which are much better quality than the additional sources which would be required to meet the anticipated demand, which is gigantic if we electrifitise everything. For the entire history of mining we have mined high grades first.

The additional sources would also need the prices to skyrocket to cover the cost of mining lower grade ores.

As a side note was reading the 2020 BP Energy Forecast recently. The very first charts displayed in the executive summary show why fossil fuels are going nowhere.

Chart one showed CO2 taxes required to change behaviours – maybe we are going to have dictactorships to get those sorts of policies enacted. The little people riot at US$25/t, can’t see them being happy with US$250/t in the developed world. And a totally ludicrous US$175/t in the DEVELOPING WORLD. I’ve seen how inventive people in the developing world are at improving their lot – I would think the entire deforestation of Africa could be on the cards if “official” energy carries that sort of tax.

Chart Two showed energy break-up, but also total energy demand. In 2050 under business as usual the total global energy demand is about 25% higher than 2018 levels. Under Net Zero and Rapid scenarios, total energy demand in 2050 is the same as in 2018. So in this scenario, what are we planning on giving up to achieve this?

John Hardy
February 17, 2021 2:28 pm

Interesting but a bit dubious in parts. Markets apply pressure, and if cobalt gets expensive they will build EVs with LFP batteries and Induction motors that don’t use any. The banning of suck-squeeze-bang-blow is silly and probably self defeating but not for fear of material shortages

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  John Hardy
February 18, 2021 4:56 pm

As a general rule, a newly introduced technology performs less than optimally. Eventually, the bugs get worked out and the best performing materials are used. When certain critical resources become scarce and expensive, substitutions are made. Generally, these substitutions are tradeoffs between cost and performance. Thus, performance, or longevity, suffer. The technology tends to decline in performance until a new technology is invented to replace it/

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