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Copper Mining and Vehicle Electrification

Copper Mining and Vehicle Electrification

Full Title: Copper Mining and Vehicle Electrification
Author(s): Lawrence Cathles and Adam Simon
Publisher(s): International Energy Forum
Publication Date: May 1, 2024
Full Text: Download Resource
Description (excerpt):

Electric vehicles (EVs) require substantially more copper and other metals than conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. For example, manufacture of an ICE automobile requires 24 kg copper whereas manufacture of an EV requires 60 kg. Many have expressed concern that the lack of critical mineral resources may not allow full electrification of the global vehicle transportation fleet, and the vehicle electrification resource demand is just a small part of that needed for the transition. By displaying both demand and mine production in full historical context we show that copper resources are available, but 100% manufacture of EVs by 2035 requires unprecedented rates of mine production. The 100% EV target not only requires significant extra copper for battery manufacture, but also more copper for grid upgrades to support charging, while hybrid electric vehicles do not require extra grid capacity. Under today’s policy settings for copper mining, it is highly unlikely that there will be sufficient additional new mines to achieve 100% EV by 2035. Policymakers might consider changing the vehicle electrification goal from 100% EV to 100% hybrid manufacture by 2035. This would allow for future output of existing and new copper mines to be used for the developing world to catch up with the developed world in electrification. Life cycle emissions for battery electric vehicles compared with hybrid electric vehicles are comparable with each other. Mining must be recognized as essential, and exploration and responsible copper mine development strongly encouraged.

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