Study Suggests Modifying EV Mandates

Steve Fiscor

The International Energy Forum (IEF) recently published Copper Mining and Vehicle Electrification. One of the conclusions in the study is that today’s mines and smelters will not be able to provide the copper needed for the full electric vehicle (EV) transition by 2035, a goal many countries have set. The IEF study recommends that policymakers modify their goals from 100% EV to a full hybrid conversion by 2035. The policy modification would allow the copper produced by existing and future mines to be used by the developing world to try to keep up with the developed world in electrification.

The 2035 fleet electrification aspirations, whether it’s EVs or hybrid, will be a challenge. No matter which direction society takes, metal miners stand to benefit. Copper miners benefit as the transition to EVs would create even more demand for copper. Platinum group metal miners and rare earth producers stand to benefit from a transition to hybrid vehicles.

Putting the full EV adoption goal aside, the mining industry would still need to mine more copper for the transition to electricity in the next 30 years than it has to date, according to the IEF study. This would be a tall order considering the time it takes to permit a mine. Electrifying all the world’s vehicles would require an additional 55% more new mines beyond what is expected for the transition to electricity.

The full EV mandates not only require more copper for battery production, it would also require more copper for grid upgrades to support charging. Hybrid electric vehicles would not need the extra grid capacity. The report says switching the global vehicle fleet to hybrids would have limited additional impact on copper demand. An EV uses 60 kg of copper versus 29 kg for a hybrid-electric and 24 kg for a combustion engine vehicle.

Copper demand for EV manufacture could create a ripple effect for the price of copper, increasing it substantially, and that could impede the transition, especially in less developed regions.

The not-for-profit IEF claims to be the world’s largest international organization of energy ministers from 73 countries and includes both producing and consuming nations. The forum has a broad mandate to examine all energy issues with a focus toward the critical issue of energy poverty.

A copy of the study is available at: electrification

Steve Fiscor, Publisher & Editor-in-Chief, E&MJ

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