The rise of electric vehicles comes with hard choices. The availability of cobalt and lithium needed to make batteries, for example, may be so limited that we must begin new mining projects to make enough batteries for the EV fleet of the future. We talk with Trent Mell, CEO of Electra Battery Materials, whose goal is to make North American EV battery manufacturing self-sufficient and circular. The company is developing two projects, including a Battery Materials Park that will process and recycle batteries that will be located in Ontario, Canada. It also leased a large cobalt and copper deposit at Iron Creek in Idaho, which the company plans to mine. The Battery Materials Park project, which opens this year, will process raw ore from the mine and recycle used EV batteries. Electra Battery also estimates that approximately 250,000 tons of lithium-ion batteries already in use will be recycled by 2025, substantially reducing the need for new mining.
The Department of Energy has warned that 70% of the world’s cobalt supply is located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and they sell 80% of that cobalt to China. However, new cobalt and lithium deposits have been identified in Idaho and Nevada, respectively. That raises the prospect of more mining. Environmentalists are justifiably concerned that nature will pay the price, again, for human progress. Trent discusses the approach to mining and restoration plans for the Iron Creek site. You can learn more at electrabmc.com