18.2 C
Belgrade
Supported byspot_img
spot_img

Battle for Lithium

Member of Europium Groupspot_img
Supported byspot_img

In the hunt for lithium and other crucial minerals for the electric car supply chain, the United States must compete not just with Chinese competitiveness and manufacturing capability, but also with internal Western limits.

While the US does not appear willing to significantly change their Inflation Reduction Act, which will guarantee nearly $400 billion in “green” subsidies to companies operating in the US over ten years, and while the EU is preparing a response that could include a mix of further easing of state aid and the creation of a “sovereign” fund made up of the residues of the Recovery Plan and little else, but without the coveted (by the Italians) Eurobonds, Consider the case of lithium.

The price of this essential mineral for electric vehicles has more than quadrupled to $75,000 per ton by the end of 2022. It is required to seek for new sources and build refineries to process them. All of this, in accordance with Washington’s approach, without relying on supplies from Beijing or any other “hostile” country. According to the Financial Times, the Biden administration has given the Australians of Ioneer a 700 million dollar conditional loan to establish a mine and processing complex in Nevada. Mining might begin in 2026, but supply contracts with Ford and Toyota have already been struck. Production may support roughly 400,000 electric automobiles per year.

Supported by

The Inflation Reduction Act’s public financial support for the supply chain is based, above all, but not exclusively, on benefits of up to $7,500 for buyers of electric vehicles produced by companies that procure components and raw materials in the United States or in countries with which Washington trades under a free trade regime, defined not as a formal treaty but rather as “friendship” and partnership.

The administration then invoked the Defense Production Act, a law enacted during the Korean War to direct domestic production toward the war effort, and has so far distributed 2.8 billion to approximately twenty companies involved in the electric vehicle supply chain, as well as activated agreements with Canada, the EU, the United Kingdom, and Australia to invest in critical extractive projects.

In the hunt for lithium and other crucial minerals for the electric car supply chain, the United States must compete not just with Chinese competitiveness and manufacturing capability, but also with internal Western limits. Beijing is aggressively forging partnerships in Africa and Latin America to get minerals in less demanding regulatory environments for use in its home refineries. In reality, China owns 80% of the world’s lithium hydroxide processing capacity, a structural advantage that will be tough to overcome in a reasonable amount of time. It is also required to address the internal limits associated with the mining activity’s permission processes. This is an objective problem in the United States, relating to environmental impact assessments.

Nevada has just one operational lithium mine, and another is awaiting a court decision after a fight with conservation groups safeguarding a rare species of wildflower. A similar tragedy befell a mining project in North Carolina, which failed due to environmental limits, forcing Tesla to rely on Canadian supply. The expansion of the EV chain necessitates mining, which has an environmental effect, as well as the building of processing capacity for these minerals, which necessitates time, money, and administrative difficulties. In the battle between Americans and Chinese, the latter has an obvious edge, owing to the relatively minimal limits imposed by local territory on the establishment of extraction and processing systems.

Europe is in the middle. Which engages in extractive project funding but risks being undermined by the appeal of American environmental subsidies? At the World Economic Forum in Davos, the White House’s special envoy for climate, John Kerry, asked the EU to move quickly on its own version of the Inflation Reduction Act, in order to shorten the development timelines of the Western approach. Because, in Kerry’s words, “money, money, money” is required. Even on our continent, attempts to build lithium mining and processing factories face stiff opposition from local residents.

Examples include the $2.4 billion Serbian Jadar mine project, which Rio Tinto’s Anglo-Australians aimed to exploit but which ended up stalled by the resistance of local communities, which led to the revocation of the initial authorizations by the Serbian government. Or the cancellation of a mining project in Portugal, by government decision.

To these obvious critical issues, which demonstrate that Green Mining is not an oxymoron, is added the European Chemical Agency’s (ECHA) request to classify lithium salts as dangerous to human health and, as a result, subject their extraction and processing to a more stringent and onerous regulatory framework. This might swing the cost balance in favor of imports rather than domestic manufacturing, with all of the associated geopolitical risks. The EU will have to give answers to these crucial operational and budgetary challenges. Keeping in mind that if the new “sovereign wealth fund” is simply a repackaging of the Recovery Fund’s unspent leftovers, individual nations with fiscal ability will act alone, posing a relative danger to the integrity of the single market, Europeans 24 writes.

Supported byElevatePR Digital

Related News

Serbia’s lithium wealth: Navigating global power struggles amid US-China trade tensions

The intensifying trade conflict between the United States and China over lithium resources, critical for the burgeoning electric vehicle industry worldwide, has thrust Serbia...

Overhauling Serbia’s mining policies: Towards sustainable resource governance

The contrast between Serbia and Norway in terms of resource management is stark. While Norway commands a significant share, ranging from 27 to 78...

Revolutionizing mining practices: “Zijin’s sustainable initiatives in Serbia

Over the past five years, "Zijin" has tackled air pollution in Bor and implemented a wastewater recycling system, ensuring no discharge into waterways, according...

Safeguarding critical raw material supplies amidst global competition

Arthur Leichthammer, a Geoeconomics Policy Fellow at the Jacques Delors Centre, emphasizes the urgent need for the EU to reevaluate its strategic approach to...
Supported by
Supported by
Supported by
error: Content is protected !!