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Will demand for metals increase with electric vehicle uptake?

Updated: Nov 5, 2017

As electric vehicles have grown in popularity, increasing attention has been placed on raw materials such as lithium, cobalt and nickel for batteries, but the story extends further.

Fully electric vehicles will require four times as much copper as internal combustion engine vehicles, and the infrastructure for charging them will see an increased demand for copper or aluminium cables. Also, as vehicles become lighter and more efficient, we’re likely to see increased use of aluminium.

The dominant lithium-ion battery type for electric vehicles is expected to have a nickel chemistry. Sourcing this quantity of nickel will be a challenge as most of the incremental supply through to 2025 will be [either] ferronickel or nickel pig iron, both of which are unsuitable raw materials for nickel sulphate batteries.

As electric vehicles become more cost-competitive and efficient, we expect global adoption to accelerate rapidly. In response, mining operations will pick up, but consumers and regulatory authorities are likely to demand increased scrutiny. The most successful companies will be those that can prove they can provide the metals needed but with minimal environmental impact.

Source: Wood Mackenzie

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