Myth: Electric cars require cobalt, the mining of which uses child labor

 |  6 May 2024

False. The Tesla Model 3, Wuling’s Hongguang Mini, the best-selling electric car in China, and Tata Motors Tiago EV all use LFP batteries, which contain no cobalt.

A 100% electric vehicle (EV) transport system will require less cobalt than is currently used by the oil industry.

Explore the evidence...

  • Mineral supply is often seen as the potential key supply constraint, as the processes involved in opening a new lithium or cobalt mine and developing the attendant battery-grade refining capacity are complex and can take about three years. But our discussions with mineral experts suggest that the supply volumes required to meet the demand curves shown in our models are achievable. Find out more about mineral supply for batteries on p30 of our Rethinking Transportation report.
  • Almost all (94%) of cobalt supply is a by-product of nickel or copper operations, which is principally concentrated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a high-conflict country, which accounts for 60% of global supply. New mines opening in the near future will add roughly 35% to the global capacity of 94k tons. (From an  Interview with Benchmark minerals experts, March 2017)
  • Cobalt supply risk can be mitigated either by changing the balance of cobalt in the cathode or through the use of lithium-iron-phosphate batteries. Learn more about the geopolitics and mineral composition of batteries on p54-55 of our Rethinking Transportation report.

Witness the transformation

Mainstream analysis often views supply and demand constraints, in this case minerals, as a key road block to achieving a fully electrified food, transport or energy system. Our analysis has shown that supply has never failed to meet demand; moreover, the supply volumes of cobalt required to meet the demand curves shown in our models are achievable.

Learn more about the future of the transportation sector.

Published on: 12/07/23

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