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The Biggest Material Needed for Electric Vehicle Batteries Isn’t Lithium, It’s Graphite

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CMA Battery Electric Vehicle Technical Concept Study - Top view

Lithium has made quite a name for itself in the current car market, as more and more automakers start producing electric vehicles powered by lithium-ion batteries, leading to a boom in lithium-mining attention. However, according to a press release from, more likely the material that we should all be looking at isn’t even part of the battery name: graphite.

This may sound like an article about a new type of battery technology, but actually, graphite makes up a large amount of the batteries currently used by Tesla, Chevrolet, and others. Tesla CEO Elon Musk once commented that the batteries should be called “nickel-graphite” instead since only 2% of a lithium-ion battery is made up of its namesake metal, while a full third is made of graphite.

For mining companies, the takeaway here is that very soon all of these automakers are going to need 20 to 30 times more graphite than lithium.

Interestingly, in North America, graphite production is a bit limited. There is only one graphite mine on the whole continent, about 150 or so miles northwest of Montreal, Quebec. It is owned by a huge European mining company called Imerys.

Production limitations are partly due to the fact that natural graphite is very rare. Although synthetic graphite can be made and is generally produced in China and India, the method to do so is very damaging to the environment. Therefore, its production is likely to follow other polluting, dying trends to eventual extinction (especially as both China and India both have started making strong moves toward eliminating pollution).

As electric vehicle production rises, so too will the price of graphite.

News Source: via PR Newswire (subscription required)