Excavators and drillers at work in an open pit at Tenke Fungurume, a copper and cobalt mine 110 km northwest of Lubumbashi REUTERS/Jonny Hogg
Electric vehicles are rising in popularity around the globe, and there are a few countries crucial in mining the necessary materials.
As electric vehicles become more popular, the politics to secure the resources necessary to power these vehicles are going to become a lot more complex. This is because of how globally dispersed the supply chains are for the key minerals and metals.
The US and Europe are especially vulnerable, given China’s dominance in the extraction of some strategic resources like cobalt. More importantly, this dominance extends to the processing of those materials, a sector where Chinese companies often have 90+% market share.
The US government has designated 35 mineral commodities that it says are critical to the country’s economic and national security. But for 21 of those critical minerals, the US-government-run broadcaster Voice of America concluded: “China is the biggest source of US imports, or it has the world’s biggest deposits or is the largest producer.”