Tesla says it expects to encounter global shortages of the key minerals needed for manufacturing electric vehicle batteries.
Speaking during a recent industry conference on Thursday, Tesla’s global supply manager for battery metals, Sarah Maryssael, told miners, regulators, and lawmakers that the car manufacturer expects a shortage of key EV minerals. Maryssael said that her comments were referring to long-term supply challenges and were industry-specific.
Among the key minerals used in the batteries of electric vehicles are copper, nickel, lithium, and others. Maryssael didn’t specify which materials the car manufacturer is expecting to see shortages of.
Reuters reports that the copper industry has long suffered from years of under-investment and is currently working to develop new mines to boost copper supplies. The world’s largest publicly traded copper producer, Freeport-McMoRan, for example, is expanding its operations in the United States and Indonesia.
The increased popularity of smart home systems like Alphabet’s Nest and Amazon’s Alexa personal assistant are expected to consume about 1.5 million tonnes of copper by 2030, a huge increase from the 38,000 tonnes they currently use. This, in turn, will limit the supply of copper that can be used for electric vehicle batteries.
According to Maryssael, Tesla intends on focusing more on nickel in the construction of its future batteries and also wants to use less cobalt in battery cathodes. Most cobalt comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the processes often used to extract it, some of which use child labor, are of great concern to the industry.
Tesla’s global supply manager for battery metals went on to state that the company sees “huge potential” to partner with mines in Australia or the United States.