The U.S. is ramping up efforts to increase the adoption of electric vehicles, with several major U.S. automakers, including General Motors, rushing to develop and debut a wide variety of EV products. However, in order to support all those new EVs, new U.S. mining projects may be necessary to source the metals required for electric vehicle production, which could run afoul of environmentalists and other groups.
Per a recent post from Reuters, which cites a study by Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, the proposed U.S. mining projects currently on the table could provide enough metal to build legions of new electric vehicles, including enough copper to build more than 6 million EVs, enough lithium to build more than 2 million EVs, and enough nickel to build more than 60,000 EVs.
However, opposition to the new mining projects could hamper progress, with environmentalist groups, ranchers, and indigenous groups resisting mining efforts. For example, in North Carolina, Piedmont Lithium Inc. may lose its local zoning permits after failing to keep local landowners appraised of its development plans, while early next year, federal judges will rule on two mine approvals to Lithium Americas Corp and Rio Tinto Plc, granted by former President Trump.
“If we don’t start getting some mining projects under construction this coming year, then we will not have the raw materials domestically to support EV manufacturing,” said James Calaway, executive chairman of lithium-boron supplier ioneer Ltd.
President Biden has also signaled a desire to rely on foreign sources for new metals to support electric vehicle production. Although the move is intended to appease environmentalists, it could also offset some of the environmental benefits touted by EV proponents, given raw materials would need to be shipped from overseas, thus boosting the greenhouse gas impact of EV production.
Nevertheless, the Biden administration has highlighted a selection of domestic mining projects to support EVs, including a geothermal lithium mining operation in California supported by General Motors.
On GM’s side, the automaker is ramping up electric vehicle efforts with the construction of several new Ultium battery factories, including facilities in Lordstown, Ohio, and Spring Hill, Tennessee. GM has previously indicated that it will launch 30 new EVs globally by 2025.