Manufacturing News

China leads batteries and minerals pack

China has not only been developing rapidly in the electric vehicle sector but is also leading in clean energy-related mineral supply chains, industry insiders in Washington say.

At an event last week titled "The Battery Minerals Supply Challenge", hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, panelists said the rapidly growing demand from the electric vehicle industry boosted the importance of batteries as well as battery minerals supply, in which China's development of industrial chains is a consistent theme.

Kwasi Ampofo, head of metals and mining at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said that globally the industry is going to enjoy "tremendous growth" by 2025, and China will play a significant role.

Europe and China have made investment in the electric vehicle sector over the past 10 years, while the United States' market share declines significantly at the same time, he said.

Ampofo said that based on his modeling, China would be one of the three countries that could potentially achieve a zero emissions tailpipe in the motor vehicle industry by 2050; the other two would be South Korea and Germany.

"Similar to electric vehicles, we're going to see significant growth in demand for batteries as a result of demand for electric vehicles."

In terms of cell capacity from now to 2025, "it is still going to be a China story", he said.

Scott Yarham, associate regional pricing director for metals at S&P Global, said global mining has been unable to keep up, and it would take years for new projects, including mines and processing facilities, to come online.

"While everyone has net-zero goals, there is a disconnect between raw material supply and achieving that (electric vehicle) fleet. Demand is exploding."

Jessica Roberts, head of forecasting with the data provider Benchmark Mineral Intelligence in London, listed the challenges for the supply chain in meeting growing electric vehicle and battery demand.

"First and foremost, we have challenges in accessing raw materials on the extraction side. Then there are also challenges and access to facilities that can refine and upgrade these raw materials."

Roberts talked about how China is dealing with those challenges.

"Where China doesn't have its own resources, we've seen it invest overseas with off-take agreements or to open and operate mines overseas itself, such as the case with nickel in Indonesia."

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