Electric vehicles highlight the problematic opportunity for miners. Although a Tesla or Porsche Taycan doesn’t have a tailpipe and usually generates much less carbon than a traditional car over a multiyear lifespan, its big lithium-ion battery requires more metal than an internal combustion engine. Consulting firm Rystad Energy expects annual lithium demand from EVs and energy storage to rise by a factor of more than 20 times by 2030 compared with last year’s level.
Lithium-ion batteries also contain cobalt, nickel, copper and aluminum. And this isn’t just about batteries: Solar panels, wind turbines, charging stations and the grid infrastructure to tie them together will all need masses of metal. There is talk of a new “supercycle,” with specialist stocks such as lithium miner Albemarle pricing in astronomical growth.
The scramble for new mining prospects is likely just getting started. Canada is a particularly appealing destination. In addition to ample resources, it offers proximity to the big U.S. market, favorable geopolitics and good environmental, social and governance credentials. These matter more than ever because today’s supplies of battery metals come with huge ESG and geopolitical challenges that are tough to reconcile with the environmental problem they are supposed to solve, not to mention Washington’s goal of lessening U.S. dependence on China.