Battery Metals, the new gold for miners

Our increasing use and dependence on energy storage on any scale is driving a rush on metals used to produce the batteries found in devices as small as a smartphone to full-scale grid storage solutions. Lithium, Cobalt, Nickle and their supply chains are all directly linked to the EV and Battery Storage markets. Other metals used in alloys such as scandium are also increasingly being touted as alternatives with new experimental designs as the technology develops.

With few mines operating for many of these metals, it’s no surprise that countries and specific companies have large market shares in their supply markets. The Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, supplies over two-thirds of the world’s cobalt. Lithium deposits are more widespread, with active industries in Canada, Australia and Latin America.

The major driver behind the growth of this industry is, not surprisingly, China. With most of the commodities flowing directly to Chinese manufacturers, the Chinese government is looking to secure the trade flows and supply chains to maintain a dominant market position. Strategically, countries with the natural resources are falling behind China in the manufacturing of the end goods, which though it benefits the shippers and international trade, is leading to dominance of China in the consumer electronics and energy storage sectors.

As the use and availability of electric vehicles grows, led by policy initiatives and lowered costs, so too will the demand for these metals increase. Though the initiative is to go green with EVs and battery storage, often overlooked is the environmentally taxing process of developing the technology. Mining, and the increased transport of materials does bring pollution and other environmental hazards to the table. With the fast growth of the industry, often times there isn’t enough foresight or time to properly implement or foresee necessary regulation. Though costs are kept low, it can be expected that once the boom in the market quiets down we will see a stabilization and normalization of regulation and costs.