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Copper demand from auto industry expected to double as EVs ramp up

April 14, 2021

By Paul Homewood 


 There are major concerns about supplies of cobalt and lithium in our new electric car world. But another problem could arise with copper:





Projections by the Committee on Climate Change consistently assume that EVs come down in price below conventional vehicles, as economies of scale bite.

However there has been no sign of this so far, hence the need for obscene taxpayer subsidies. Given potential shortages of minerals, price cuts look further away than ever.

  1. Joe Public permalink
    April 14, 2021 10:35 am

    There’s also this from press release from the Natural History Museum from 2019:

    “Leading scientists set out resource challenge of meeting net zero emissions in the UK by 2050”

    The challenges set out in the letter are:

    The metal resource needed to make all cars and vans electric by 2050 and all sales to be purely battery electric by 2035. To replace all UK-based vehicles today with electric vehicles (not including the LGV and HGV fleets), assuming they use the most resource-frugal next-generation NMC 811 batteries, would take 207,900 tonnes cobalt, 264,600 tonnes of lithium carbonate (LCE), at least 7,200 tonnes of neodymium and dysprosium, in addition to 2,362,500 tonnes copper. This represents, just under two times the total annual world cobalt production, nearly the entire world production of neodymium, three quarters the world’s lithium production and at least half of the world’s copper production during 2018. Even ensuring the annual supply of electric vehicles only, from 2035 as pledged, will require the UK to annually import the equivalent of the entire annual cobalt needs of European industry.

    The worldwide impact: If this analysis is extrapolated to the currently projected estimate of two billion cars worldwide, based on 2018 figures, annual production would have to increase for neodymium and dysprosium by 70%, copper output would need to more than double and cobalt output would need to increase at least three and a half times for the entire period from now until 2050 to satisfy the demand.

  2. Gamecock permalink
    April 14, 2021 11:22 am

    ‘EVs come down in price below conventional vehicles, as economies of scale bite.’

    Gross speculation.

    Plus, price ≠ cost.

  3. April 14, 2021 12:04 pm

    20kg of copper for the average light ICE vehicle seems a bit high. I would guess 5kg in alternator and wiring harness but could be wrong. What else is copper in a car?

    • Rick C permalink
      April 14, 2021 10:01 pm

      Starter motor, blower motor, windshield wiper motor, power window motors, engine cooling fans, relays, solenoids. Also various alloys.

  4. Coeur de Lion permalink
    April 14, 2021 12:04 pm

    Track second hand prices for the Nissan Leaf (£30K) and you will see depreciation at £5000 a year for the first three years until battery life anxiety clicks in. Tory Red Wallers will love that

    • April 15, 2021 9:05 am

      Leasing would cost a lot less than £5k per year, with no battery replacement worries.

  5. Ron Arnett permalink
    April 14, 2021 12:32 pm

    And if you think petro products are inherently unstable in price and supply, get a load of where most of the world’s copper comes from.

    • Gamecock permalink
      April 14, 2021 9:12 pm

      Related: If you are in the Salt Lake City area, go take a look at Bingham Canyon/Kennecott Copper Mine. Man’s biggest hole.

  6. bobn permalink
    April 14, 2021 2:29 pm

    Also the bodywork of EVs is largely plastic derived. Plastics are cheap today because they are a byproduct of the oil industry. As investment in oil reduces and refineries close, then plastics will get more expensive due to ‘loss’ of economies of scale.

  7. It doesn't add up... permalink
    April 14, 2021 6:56 pm

    How about the demand for copper for electricity cables, transformers and generator windings? We could at a pinch use aluminium for cables, but they have to be much thicker to carry the current.

  8. Gamecock permalink
    April 14, 2021 9:08 pm

    Peak copper?

    Copper is a finite resource. Shouldn’t we save some – for the children?

  9. 2hmp permalink
    April 14, 2021 9:42 pm

    There continue to be many question marks over electrical vehicles. The initial cost, their performance, and their use of expensive and rare elements. It wasn’t so long ago that a Honda engineer told me that they are not convinced that the IC engine is about to be replaced.

  10. Mack permalink
    April 14, 2021 10:46 pm

    Interesting times ahead.

    Hitherto, the costs and implications of the insane transformation from cheap fossil fuel reliables to expensive, (but, in reality, non-green) unreliables in the West has been hidden or deliberately obscured from the taxpayers who fund such policies. The billions wasted over the past 50 years of climate alarmism have made not a jot of difference to the natural rise in global co2 emissions from all sources, nor the climate.

    With the intended transformations required to meet ‘net zero’ already overdue, the reality of alarmist ambition will soon crash headlong in to the reality of a surly populous who, frankly, will be reluctant to ditch warm houses, cheap and reliable private means of transport and a decent meal for ridiculously expensive alarmist virtue signalling. Particularly when it becomes clear that, rather than global warming that the great unwashed have been terrified about through relentless government and media inspired fear campaigns, it is perfectly natural global cooling that comes about over the next decade or so, as many respected, non compromised, atmospheric scientists have been warning. With harsher winters and ruined harvests symptomatic of a cooling period it’s going to be a big ask for any politician to convince the public that man made global warming is ‘a thing’ unless their persuasion is accompanied by the cosh and the jackboot. The way that, so called, liberal democracies in the West have embraced Chinese style lockdown dictatorship policies does not give one confidence that similar policies won’t be utilised in the very near future to enforce compliance with current AGW kamikaze theories.

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