Roskill’s ‘On the Road… Cape Town’ meeting, held last week at the Crossley & Webb showroom, highlighted the strains on raw material supply chains that forecast growth in hybrid and electric vehicles are likely to create. Battery raw materials have consistently been in the headlines as fears over future supply of lithium, cobalt and nickel sulphate have led to upstream investment by OEMs and downstream manufactures. Demand for lithium is forecast to increase seven-fold by 2030, whilst demand for cobalt is forecast to triple by the late 2020s, largely driven by demand from lithium-ion battery technologies. The supply of battery grade materials to meet demand growth is expected to require significant investment in expansions and new mining/processing operations, along with increasing supply from secondary sources.
Demand growth caused by vehicle electrification is not limited to battery raw materials. Rare earth-bearing permanent magnet motors are increasingly used in EV models, which is forecast to cause sustained demand growth for neodymium, praseodymium and dysprosium. As producers focus on these elements, supply-demand dynamics for the other rare earth elements are forecast to shift dramatically.