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America’s Electric Vehicle Dependence: How Foreign Dependance of Critical Materials Pose Risks

When it comes to obtaining materials for electric vehicles (EVs), the United States is heavily dependent on foreign nations. According to a US Geological Survey report Seven of the eight minerals used in electric vehicles have a net import dependence of 50% or more, with natural graphite, manganese, and rare earths having a 100% import dependence. 

Batteries for electric vehicles (EVs)

Batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) are made from a variety of materials that are sourced from all over the world. Here are 4 of the several main resources and where they can be found: 

  1. Lithium is an important component of most EV batteries. “Currently, almost all lithium mining occurs in Australia, Latin America, and China (accounting for a combined 98 percent of production in 2020)
  2. Cobalt is commonly used in the cathode of EV batteries. It is primarily mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which produces about 70% of the world’s cobalt. Concerns have been raised in the region about unethical labor practices and environmental damage associated with cobalt mining.
  3. Nickel is another important material used in EV batteries. It is predominantly mined in Canada, Russia, and Indonesia.
  4. Graphite can be found In many EV batteries as an anode material. It is primarily mined in China, which produces 70%-80% of the world’s graphite. 

Reliance on foreign sources of critical materials

This reliance on foreign sources of critical materials poses several threats to the US EV industry and national security. For starters, the global supply of these materials is not always stable or predictable, and their prices can fluctuate rapidly. This can create uncertainty for EV manufacturers and lead to supply chain disruptions, slowing the EV industry’s growth. 

Furthermore, many of the countries that manufacture these materials are not always trustworthy or stable partners. Political unrest or conflicts in these countries could disrupt the supply of critical materials, jeopardizing the growth of the US EV industry. For example, the ongoing political crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has raised concerns about the critical material’s supply. 


Overall, there are numerous nations and businesses involved in the intricate global supply chain for EV battery materials. Some of the mining operations used to produce these materials have raised questions about their effects on the environment and their relationship to labor laws. It will be crucial to make sure that the supply chain is ethical and sustainable as the demand for EVs increases. The United States is taking action to develop domestic sources of these essential materials and lessen its reliance on foreign sources to address these risks. This entails making investments in domestic mining and recycling businesses as well as creating new technologies that can be used to create EV batteries from alternative materials.


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