Peak Oil is You

Donate Bitcoins ;-) or Paypal :-)

Page added on March 6, 2021

Bookmark and Share

Beyond Oil: Lithium-Ion Battery Minerals and Energy Security

Alternative Energy

Oil has long dominated concerns about energy security because oil products have fueled nearly all of the world’s transportation for over a century. But that may be changing as vehicles powered by electric motors have become competitive with those powered by internal combustion engines. Should the mass adoption of electric vehicles occur, access to reliable and affordable sources of minerals like cobalt, graphite, lithium, manganese, and nickel, which are used in modern electric-vehicle batteries, will come to occupy a larger share of energy security concerns, especially since one country has already gained control over much of the world’s production and processing of those minerals.

For the moment, however, oil products still provide over 90 percent of the energy that the world uses for mobility. Hence, the energy-security problem of ensuring the availability of reliable and affordable oil supplies remains a relevant one. And, not so long ago, that problem seemed particularly acute. In 2008, oil prices reached an all-time high of $140 per barrel. Many sounded the alarm that the world had reached “peak oil,” the point at which the global supply of oil would start to run out. That alarm, of course, had been heard many times before. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter warned that the United States would need “the production of a new Texas every year, an Alaskan North Slope every nine months, or a new Saudi Arabia every three years” to keep up with its oil consumption. Four decades later, the United States produced more oil than ever and, as of September 2019, became a net exporter of oil and oil products for the first time since the 1950s.

What changed America’s oil production fortunes was the new combination of two existing technologies: horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking. Together, they unlocked oil (and natural gas) deposits trapped in shale rock, massively increasing American oil output. Thus, oil has remained abundant and affordable, despite major production disruptions during the Arab Spring from 2010-2012, in Libya from 2013-2016, and in Venezuela after 2017. In fact, oil prices had dropped 60 percent from their 2008 highs by early 2020, even before the COVID-19 pandemic had made a dent in the global economy.

Old Energy, Old Problems

With abundant oil supplies and low oil prices, energy security concerns seemed to warrant less attention. But major oil-producing countries can still cause trouble. As long as oil continues to be the world’s leading transportation fuel and provides hefty royalties to their governments, it enables such countries to exert power. Indeed, falling oil prices throughout the 2010s may have lulled Western policymakers into believing that the Russian Federation, whose economy is heavily reliant on oil and natural gas exports, would become more docile. It did not; instead, it continued to modernize its military and intimidate its neighbors. Russia even sent troops to Syria.

Moreover, countries can still wield their control over oil production as a tool of coercion even when oil prices are low. That was demonstrated in March 2020 when a long-simmering dispute between Russia and Saudi Arabia over the “fair price” for oil boiled over into an all-out price war. Russia, fearing more market share losses to American shale-oil producers, lobbied the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to raise its oil production so that oil prices would settle at $60-65 per barrel, a level that would undermine the profitability of America’s highly leveraged shale-oil industry. But Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s leader, disagreed at the time. With its government budget expected to balance at $75-80 per barrel in 2020, Saudi Arabia wanted OPEC to cut its oil production in order to increase oil prices.

OPEC and Russia bargained for months, but talks finally broke down after Moscow refused to limit its oil production to help stabilize oil prices in the wake of the slump in global oil demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Calculating that it could hurt Russia enough to force it back to the negotiating table, Saudi Arabia boosted its daily oil output by 20 percent, flooding the market with oil. Not to be intimidated, Russia responded with a short-term increase in its own oil output (possibly to strike back at Saudi Arabia or to force some American shale-oil companies out of business or both). As a result, oil prices collapsed. The futures price for West Texas Intermediate crude touched a remarkable -$37 per barrel. Although beneficial for oil consumers, the Russia-Saudi Arabia oil price war was a reminder of the influence that state-driven oil producers still had over the world’s energy security.

New Energy, New Problems

But even as new technology has vastly expanded the availability of oil, it has also begun to undermine oil’s dominance as a transportation fuel. Advances in battery technology have made electric vehicles a practical alternative to traditional automobiles. And as electric vehicles have become more popular, the marginal demand for oil has ebbed, which has led some to believe that a shift from oil to electricity as the fuel source for the world’s mobility would bring an end to energy security concerns for good.[1] It will not. Just as access to reliable and affordable oil resources came to define energy security in the 20th century, access to reliable and affordable minerals, which are used in modern electric-vehicle batteries, will occupy a larger share of energy security concerns in the 21st century.

Already, those concerns have percolated as a single country, China, has gained control over much of the world’s production and processing of the cobalt, graphite, lithium, manganese, and nickel used in lithium-ion batteries, the type of electricity-storage devices favored by electric-vehicle manufacturers today. Though China does not have large reserves of most of these minerals within its borders, Chinese companies have been actively acquiring controlling interests in mines abroad, such as the Kisanfu cobalt mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in December 2020. Indeed, Chinese companies now control almost half of the DRC’s cobalt output, which constitutes over two-thirds of the world’s production. Perhaps of greater concern, China has come to dominate the refining and processing of those minerals. Eighty percent of the cobalt sulphates and oxides used for lithium-ion battery cathodes are processed in China.

China also processes all of the world’s spherical graphite, the processed form of natural graphite that is used for lithium-ion battery anodes. China’s monopoly can be largely attributed to its relatively low energy costs and less stringent environmental regulations. Traditional graphite processing is both energy intensive and highly polluting, using high-temperature furnaces and hydrofluoric acid to purify the mineral after it is shaped. While some companies in Australia, Canada, and the United States are developing new ways to create spherical graphite, none are yet in use on an industrial scale, ensuring that China will maintain its grip on spherical graphite production for several more years.

Though China controls a smaller share of the world’s production of lithium than that of other minerals, it has been buying up stakes in lithium mines around the globe.

China’s Tianqi Lithium now owns 51 percent of the world’s largest lithium reserve in Australia. In 2018, the company became the second-largest shareholder in Sociedad Química y Minera—the largest lithium producer in Chile. Another Chinese company, Ganfeng Lithium, has a long-term agreement to underwrite all lithium raw materials produced by Australia’s Mount Marion mine—the world’s second-biggest, high-grade lithium reserve.

And China has not stopped there. Moving up the value chain, it is expected to build 101 of the 136 lithium-ion battery manufacturing plants that are currently planned over the next decade.

China’s dominance over such strategic minerals is not, in and of itself, necessarily worrisome. But Beijing’s history of restricting access to those minerals makes it so. In 2010, China abruptly restricted its rare-earth metal exports to Japan, nominally to protect the environment. But after a lengthy review, the World Trade Organization ruled against China’s restrictions. Since then, worries about relying on China as a strategic-minerals supplier have continued to grow. Sometimes, China feeds those fears. In one 2019 incident, China’s state-run Global Times flaunted the country’s dominance over rare-earth metals as a strategic weapon against other countries with the headline “China gears up to use rare-earth advantage.” Such not-so-veiled threats from government-linked media only fan suspicions that China will behave no better than Russia or Saudi Arabia—and possibly worse.

Energy Secure at Last?

China’s control over much of the minerals used in modern electric-vehicle batteries has not escaped the notice of governments. In 2019, the U.S. Department of State launched the Energy Resources Governance Initiative to “promote resilient and secure energy resource mineral supply chains” for all kinds of renewable energy and battery storage technologies.  The initiative’s membership has grown to include Australia, Botswana, Canada, Peru, and the United States. Though it is too early to say what impact the initiative might have, it is clear that some governments have grown warier.

While electric vehicles may help to temper traditional energy security concerns, such vehicles will not entirely end them. Oil will remain an energy security concern as long as its products continue to fuel a major share of the world’s transportation. Meanwhile, electric vehicles have given rise to new concerns. From the perspective of energy security, what may be even more troubling is that the world appears to be swapping its old dependency on OPEC and Russia, a fractious bunch that until recently was losing power to American oil-shale upstarts, for a new one on China, a single country with a one-party government. Far from reaching energy security’s terminus, the world might be on the road to a more precarious place.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a non-partisan organization that seeks to publish well-argued, policy-oriented articles on American foreign policy and national security priorities.


20 Comments on "Beyond Oil: Lithium-Ion Battery Minerals and Energy Security"

  1. Cloggie on Thu, 11th Mar 2021 1:42 am 

    The offshore windpark Borssele of 1.5 GW is now operational, so resources are freed to build the next one, Hollandse Kust Zuid I-IV, another 1.5 GW:

    “Sif Rolls Out First Hollandse Kust Zuid TP-Less Monopiles”

    140 x 11 MW Siemens-Gamesa turbines. Completion date early 2023.

    “Overview Dutch Offshore Wind Effort until 2030 and Beyond”

  2. Theedrich on Thu, 11th Mar 2021 3:38 pm 

    The elites: Make White race into a suicide cult. Wield the Cretin religious guilt myth as a club.  All of the world’s suffering must be made to seem a result of White sins, for which all Whites must atone.  All Whites, including babies, must be accused.  The masses are too stupid to recognize propaganda when it is poured into them by the media.  The few who do understand must be intimidated by government laws and business “equality” regulations and “reparations.”  Use as many useful idiots as can be found (the universities are full of them).  Import the entire non-White world into White countries to soften up the resisters.  Use political devices to steal all White wealth under the pretext of Albert-Schweitzer-philanthropic giving to the lowest-IQ race.  Free speech must be only for approved voices.  Then, after the Whites have all been mulattoized or destroyed by narcocrime, seize world power for the richest oligarchs and eliminate the subhuman dregs who constitute the vast majority of humanity.

    So only oligarchs and their slaves will be left.

  3. makati1 on Thu, 11th Mar 2021 4:13 pm 

    “The masses are too stupid to recognize propaganda when it is poured into them by the media.”

    So true! And so many examples of dumbed down, brainwashed, sheeple here on PO.

  4. Anonymouse on Thu, 11th Mar 2021 8:36 pm 

    Propaganda is alive and well here in the ‘modern’ 21c world. I can think of no better example than yesterdays? Headline, how 1.7 people trying to call in, (out of 4.6 mil), crashed the local regimes ‘vaccine hotline’.

    Now read the actual article and you learn only 90 years or older actually qualify for the toxic, garbage, gene altering ‘vaccine’ ROFL. I mean, wtf? Were going all in to save the 90+ crowd. Now, I can tell you all, the govt here really doesn’t give a rats ass about 90+ seniors, or, anyone else tbh, but, that propaganda piece from CTV sure makes it sound as if they do. (they really dont)

    Propaganda floods the airwaves, and anyone dumb enough to watch TV ‘news’,or read the ‘news’papers, gets exactly what they deserve. In this instance, nearly 2 million idiots lining up for multiple doses of an untested, toxic, garbage, not-a-vacine that is already doing its job, killing off some of those surplus seniors the regime claims to be so concerned about ‘saving’. LOL.

    The take-away here is, people can be lead into believing almost anything, so long as the system, pumps out a steady diet of lies, and mis-information. All it seems to take, is lots of propaganda on the tube, backed up by credible sounding, if thoroughly corrupt individuals and orgs with deep conflicts of interest and shady histories, to stay on message. Little has changed in the last 100-150 years, even with the internet in terms of public susceptibility to mass manipulation and deception by the forces of the regime.

    I am not hopeful for the future and nothing I have seen of late, outside the honest folks still able to speak freely on the internet of course, gives me much to cheer about.

  5. FamousDrScanlon on Fri, 12th Mar 2021 12:10 am 

    Theedrich, it must be very flattering having so many evil doers pouring all their time & resources into fooling little ole you.

    You’re just so special.

  6. FamousDrScanlon on Fri, 12th Mar 2021 12:41 am 

    Anonymouse, what is it you do or don’t do that the sheeple don’t or can’t do?

    can you explain all the advantages you have by NOT being a mindless sheeple?

    Surly there must be thousands of benefits from “knowing” the truth, given that you & Mak are constantly bitching about brainwashed sheeple.

    Do you guys (knowers) get tax exemptions that the rest of us dumb sheeple don’t get?

    Free pass for the fitness centre?

    Half price @ Krispy Kreme?

    Pray tell O wise men, what’s so great being all knowing?

    “Knowing” things don’t mean fuck all if all you ever do about it is talk about it like a gaggle of hysterical women.


  7. Biden's hairplug on Fri, 12th Mar 2021 1:33 am 

    Theedrich, it must be very flattering having so many evil doers pouring all their time & resources into fooling little ole you. You’re just so special.

    Kikes like FamousDrScanlon won, whites like Theedrich lost. Admit it… America is over, so we can pave the way for something new.


    “American astronauts to again use Russian Soyuz rocket to reach ISS as NASA can’t rely on ‘unstable’ US tech – Moscow space chief”


    Continental Europe, white America’s plan B.

    2000 million Eurasians should be able to make very short shrift to that yapper of 320 million [*] that loves to imagine it can have it all.

    [*] divided to the core between one half patriots and the other half globalist libtards.


    Let China do the initiation in East Asia…

    …and reward them afterwards with Taiwan and Down Under (that is indefensible anyway, Aussies can come home North or live in an Indian-style reserve in the South, depending on what we can negotiate for them). Consider both the US “shining coasts” LOST too. You don’t want to be found dead in Frisco, LA, NYC, Baltimore and the rest of the junk towns.

    Now be prepared to produce some very toxic masculinity.

  8. Biden's hairplug on Fri, 12th Mar 2021 1:34 am 

    “China warns Taiwan independence ‘means war’ as US pledges support”

    29 jan 2021

  9. FamousDrScanlon on Fri, 12th Mar 2021 9:53 am 

    more lying from clog’s hero techno pimp Musk

    You Gonna Believe Me, Or Your Lyin’ Eyes? It’s Driverless!

    “Lies have become to us as water is to fish, and contenders to take up Trump’s mantle as the lying king are many. Prominent among them is Elon Musk.

    Elon Musk says that a fully autonomous Tesla (the electric car his company makes) is less than a year away. He has been saying that for about ten years now. He says it whenever his company’s stock starts to tank. In April of 2019, when Tesla was suffering a serious cash crunch, Musk announced that there would be one million fully autonomous robotaxis on the road by the end of 2020. By the end of 2020 not one robotaxi had been built, but Tesla has sold $3 billion dollars worth of stock. Works like a charm.”

    “Tesla marketing informed the owners of its cars that for $10,000, they could download a software update that would give their car Full Self-Driving Capability. That’s what the company called it, Full Self-Driving Capability, an update from its equally misnamed Auto Pilot. The word “full” does not imply, it states, that when the software is installed, you will have an autonomous self-driving car.

    The claims moved the California Department of Motor Vehicles to inquire how it was that Tesla was marketing a driverless car without ever having applied for permission to test a driverless car, as state law requires. Tesla’s response was quite different from its marketing materials. Shoot, a Tesla attorney wrote to the DMV, that’s not a driverless car, far from it:

    “there are circumstances and events to which the system is not capable of recognizing or responding. These include static objects and road debris, emergency vehicles, construction zones, large uncontrolled intersections with multiple incoming ways, occlusions, adverse weather, complicated or adversarial vehicles in the driving path, unmapped roads.” As a result, “the driver maintains responsibility.”

    Oh. So when you’ve spent $10,000 and installed the “Full Self-Driving Capability” what you will have is pretty much what you had before. A car that can do a few electronic tricks but, like all other cars that are called “driverless,” requires the full time attention of a driver.”

  10. Cloggie on Fri, 12th Mar 2021 11:30 am 

    “more lying from clog’s hero techno pimp Musk”

    Never said Musk is my “hero”… hero is such a girly concept anyway.

    Musk is wrong, there is no added value for his private cars to become autonomous. Wtf do you need a classic 5-seater sedan for, with the driver sitting in the driver seat…. doing nothing… or supervising or whatever.

    Americans are too individualized for autonomous driving, for the same reason why they have no advanced train system. Only more collectivist countries have advanced train systems, like France, Germany, China.

    Autonomous driving only makes sense if it is collectivist. If you have vans, suitable for say 8 people, you use that van as a bus on demand.

    Volkswagen, not Tesla, understands that:

    VW wants to concentrate on “Nutzfahrzeugen”, utility vans, for transport of people or goods.

    Start modest, don’t try level 5 from scratch. Designate highways as first test objects. Just drive a highway up and down and nothing else. Never overtake, stay in the slow lane. Start at night.

    Here is a map of the famous German Autobahn system:

    Seem them as a railway grid 2.0.
    Start truck and person transport services along that grid. With warehouse for goods along the road and bus-with-driver connections into the city.

    That’s the way forward.

    The ultimate goal is to discourage private car ownership, not via forbidding, but via offering a viable alternative.

  11. Biden's hairplug on Fri, 12th Mar 2021 12:47 pm 

    Don’t be fooled by the infamous dr, sometimes something good DOES come from Canada:

  12. FamousDrScanlon on Fri, 12th Mar 2021 1:42 pm 

    Silicon Is the New Toilet Paper as Chip Shortage Hits Industrial Manufacturing

    ““It’s a bit like everyone is crazily buying and hoarding toilet papers in a crisis. Everyone is fighting for resources at the same time, and I don’t see a turning point coming yet,” Advantech Chairman KC Liu told investors on Wednesday, according to Nikkei Asia.

    Advantech reports mobilizing hundreds of employees across more than 50 business departments to try and mitigate supply shortages. Unless it’s arming them for battle and preparing to launch raids on rival manufacturers, that may not help. Miller Chang, the president of Embedded IoT at Advantech, has stated the company is running short on ~500 different components used across its product families. Attempts to ramp up secondary sources and/or to switch components are also underway.”

    “The most ominous quote in the story refers to semiconductor lead times for various components. Audio codec chips and microcontrollers are now running more than 50 weeks behind. Graphics cards, power management ICs, Wi-Fi chips, Bluetooth, and LCDs are running at 20 weeks. CPUs and memory chips are the best off, here, with lead times of just 12 weeks.

    According to Acer chairman and CEO Jason Chen, the problem is getting worse, not better. “We are continuously facing a condition that demand always exceeds supply,” Chen said last week. “We feel growing pressure because of the component shortages, and our staff are working with additional efforts to chase all the components needed every day.”

  13. FamousDrScanlon on Fri, 12th Mar 2021 3:30 pm 

    oh no clog why so grumpy? Are you having a heavy flow day again? Try Midol.

    I know this next one will make your cramps worse, but the truth of cancel culture can’t be hidden.

    Georgetown Professor Fired for Statements About Black Students

    “A video of the adjunct law professor making “reprehensible” comments about Black students circulated on social media and angered students.”

    “The professor, Sandra Sellers, is shown in the recording making negative comments about Black students’ academic performance. The comments came at the end of a session of a class she taught jointly with the other professor and which was recorded for future viewing by students.
    Inside Higher Ed Careers

    Search Over 22,000 Jobs

    Browse all jobs on Inside Higher Ed Careers »

    Hiring? Post A Job Today!

    “I hate to say this,” Sellers says in the video recording of her conversation with another Georgetown law professor, David Batson. “I end up having this angst every semester that a lot of my lower ones are Blacks. Happens almost every semester. And it’s like, oh, come on. You get some really good ones. But there are also usually some that are just plain at the bottom. It drives me crazy.”

    “The Black Law Students Association had previously called for Sellers’s immediate termination after the video was made public on Wednesday, writing in a letter that Georgetown “must take swift and definitive action in the face of blatant and shameless racism.”

    “The association also called for a public apology from Batson for “his failure to adequately condemn Sellers’ statements,”

    Another fine white woman’s career cancelled for not showing enough nigger love.

    The funniest part is the white prof being condemned for NOT nigger defending. The video was cut right when he starts to talk. Who knows, maybe he was showing nigger love, but the niggers cut the video because what he said don’t fit the nigger narrative?

    Are you outraged clog?

    I could fix the entire anti white man crusade in one day, but y’all won’t listen to me, nor do you posses the courage.

    It’s real simple. Start with one day, I think a Monday is best. Have a white man general strike – no warning. Within 12 hours they’ll be on their knees begging the men who designed, built & run everything they depend on to come back.

    There will be some serious collateral damage, but it is a war after all.

  14. makati1 on Fri, 12th Mar 2021 3:33 pm 

    Everyone and everything is intertwined these days, as the West is finding out and China knows. Rare earths especially. It will take years for the US to be “independent”, if ever.

    Meanwhile the Fascist, Police State, ‘Empire’ is dying from debt suicide, arrogance and greed. Adjust, sheeple!

  15. Biden's hairplug on Sat, 13th Mar 2021 2:32 am 

    “Georgetown Professor Fired for Statements About Black Students”

    Enoch Powell’s his “rivers of blood” are going to happen in the US first.

    Those countries able to keep their ethnic consistency will end up as the winners after the demise of the US empire and the US itself. Countries like China, Japan, Italy, Eastern Europe, Spain, Russia.

    The biggest losers will be, in descending order: US, Canada, France, Britain, Sweden, Holland, Belgium, Germany.

    The more Protestant, the bigger the loser.

    The US, one giant Yugoslavia. We’ll have a century worth of “content” to make movies about, once that drama unfolds.

    “Are you outraged clog?”

    I have been for 20 years, but in declining intensity, and today I feel better than ever before, because I know the nightmare will be over soon, and I already know who is going to lose the confrontation between US libtards and the rest of the world. But I won’t reveal it and keep you in suspense, just like you are not supposed to tell the plot of a movie to somebody who has yet to see the flick.

  16. Biden's hairplug on Sat, 13th Mar 2021 3:39 am 

    Recommended literature for apneaman:

    After all, a warned human counts for two! (Dutch proverb)

  17. Cloggie on Sat, 13th Mar 2021 11:24 am 

    Lightyear, the solar car spin off from the Australian Solar Challenge winner and TU-Eindhoven has received 40 million funding, which enables production of the “Dutch Tesla” to start. An IPO is considered.

  18. FamousDrScanlon on Sat, 13th Mar 2021 12:47 pm 

    How My People Became the World’s Greatest Idiots

    Why America and Britain are Global Laughingstocks

    “My people, Anglo-Americans, have become the world’s and this age’s most spectacular, gigantic, colossal, hateful, preening, grinning, violent idiots. My people are the great, historic idiots of now. They’re idiots to an incredible degree: cheering each other on all the way to the cliff’s edge, and then jumping, hand-in-hand into the abyss. And then roaring in delight all the way down the abyss. By and large, my people don’t know the most basic thing about the modern world, they don’t want to know why it matters, and they don’t even want to know why they don’t know it. Do you know what that blinding level of wilful ignorance makes a person? You guessed it, an idiot.”

    America and Britain are the world’s two newest failed states. They have imploded — wilfully — into stupidity, despair, ugliness, hate, violence, and brutality. So what does their collapse teach us, history, futurity, civilisation?

    “You might not know it, but there’s been a contest of what you might call “values” over the last few decades. Would the Anglo-American way win — or the other one? Let’s call it the European-Canadian one.”

    “And so America and Britain have simply stopped being a part of the modern world — because individualistic, aggressive, hostile, materialistic, exploitative cultures can’t adapt to an age where cooperation is the prime mover of social success.”

    “I put “conservatism” in quotes because it should be said that Anglo-American conservatism is different. From the European-Canadian style.”

    “If Anglo-American conservatives were right, then Europe and Canada would be the failed states, and America and Britain the successful, happy, wealthy societies. Of course, the precise opposite is true.”

  19. Biden’s hairplug on Sat, 13th Mar 2021 1:49 pm 

    Umair Haque… talking about “his people”.lol

    A leftist Paki pretending to be a conservative Anglo and making excuses for “his group”.

    TalmudTurk loves these kind of identity thefts, practices it all the time.

  20. Biden’s hairplug on Sat, 13th Mar 2021 4:28 pm 

    More leftist despair, Bill Maher:

    “Bill Maher: China Has Won Because Americans Are “A Silly People”“

    “Comedian and talk show host Bill Maher had a sobering message for America: China has beat us because we’re too distracted with identity politics to remain the dominant world power.“

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *