• Philippine Resources

The Tandem between Mining and Electric Vehicles


Electric vehicles and battery manufacturers - Exhibitors at the 7th Philippine Electric Vehicle Summit - July 2019, SMX Convention Center, Pasay City (Photo by Marcelle P. Villegas, Philippine Resources Journal)


By Marcelle P. Villegas

While most environmentalists believe that mining is bad for the environment, they somehow encourage or even demand from car manufacturers to resort to eco-friendly technologies. Thus, the emergence of electric vehicles (EV) enters the picture as the solution. EVs have less carbon emissions and use greener fuels, therefore, this will help improve the air quality on the planet. But with this trend in transportation technology, manufacturers will now require a large and steady supply of specific elements. How to acquire these elements now goes back to mining.

Last July, Elon Musk, CEO and product architect of Tesla Inc. emphasised the importance of nickel and its rising demand. The American electric vehicle and clean energy company, Tesla Inc. ranked as the world’s best-selling plug-in and battery electric passenger car manufacturer in 2019. [1] Musk encourages mining companies to produce more nickel since it is the key ingredient in the manufacturing of batteries for electric vehicles. He mentioned that the current cost of EV batteries remained a big hurdle to the company’s growth. [2]

He stated, “Tesla will give you a giant contract for a long period of time if you mine nickel efficiently and in an environmentally sensitive way.”

Nickel in batteries provides much energy for an EV on a single charge. Tesla Inc. now has a rising demand for nickel in order to boost the production of trucks and solar projects. [2]

Here in the Philippines, we have the implementation of the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP), thus more electric cars are now plying on the streets of Metro Manila. PUVMP is a flagship program of the Duterte administration which envisions restructured, modern, well-managed, and environmentally sustainable transport sector, ensuring drivers and operators have stable, sufficient and dignified livelihoods while commuters get to their destinations quickly, safely and comfortably. [3]

Aside from nickel, there are other elements like iron, cobalt, copper, and more that are essential in the production of EVs and their batteries. Because of mining, manufacturing of EVs and their efficient batteries is possible.

Here are some facts about the elements that are needed in EVs. [3]

  • Electric car batteries require 15 kilograms of cobalt.

  • Lithium is used to create rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that power electric and hybrid vehicles.

  • Lithium-ion batteries used by many of the major electric vehicles manufacturers use a cathode that is primarily composed of nickel.

  • Iron is used to make the protective bodies of electric vehicles.

  • Molybdenum is an essential component of airbags.

  • Electric cars use twice as much copper as internal combustion engines.

The development of green technologies and the manufacturing of EVs and batteries are all dependent on mining. In order to successfully protect the environment in the long run, proper management of mineral resources, eco-friendly strategies and responsible mining are needed.


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Reference:

[1] Pontes, Jose (Feb. 4, 2020). “EV Sales: 2019 sales by OEM”. EV Sales.

[2] Sun, Yilei and Burton, Melanie (July 23, 2020). Reuters. “‘Please mine more nickel,' Musk urges as Tesla boosts production”. Retrieved from - https://www.reuters.com/article/us-tesla-nickel-idUSKCN24O0RV

[3] “The Anatomy of an Electric Car: All Thanks to Mining” (September 2019). Mining Philippines Programme Report. Retrieved from -

https://www.spglobal.com/marketintelligence/en/news-insignts/research/nickel-supply-energized-by-electric-vehicles

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