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The next major EV battery is a curse for recyclers
And a news round-up in mining for climate technologies
Electric vehicle companies — from Tesla to China’s BYD to legacy automakers — are fleeing cobalt and nickel. The two metals are often the most expensive elements in a battery, and companies who produce them have been tied to destructive practices that harm people and ecosystems.
As a result, EV companies are embracing a battery technology that has neither cobalt nor nickel [in cathodes]. LFP batteries rely on a lithium-iron-phosphate cathode. Those elements, especially iron, are far more abundant, and spread across multiple regions of the world. It’s also cheaper and can ease worries about major metal shortages.
However, the battery’s benefits pull the rug out from under recyclers: How are recyclers supposed to make money on recovering dirt cheap materials?
The spread of LFP batteries is revealing the flaws in the way we recycle. There are ways to improve, and they include both government and companies.
Read more at Intercalation Station as part of our collaborative deep dive into the world of recycling for a crucial climate technology. And keep up with their newsletter here:
In case you missed last week’s edition on a company that wants to produce your EV battery metals, check it out below. It quickly become the most popular Green Rocks post:
News in climate mining
Industry experts in the EU have called for stricter rules on recycling, especially rare earth elements in products like EVs and circuit boards.
Victims of the worst environmental disaster in Brazil’s history report that they are being bullied into accepting lower compensation for the Mariana tailings dam break in 2015.
Meanwhile, in the UK, a court has agreed to reconsider whether it should hear the case of 200,000 claimants from the Mariana disaster.
The reliance on climate technologies to address climate change is revolutionizing the mining sector, according to consultancy Fitch Solutions.
Shareholders of mining giant Rio Tinto rejected plans to give the CEO a generous exit package after he had overseen the destruction of sacred sites in Australia.
The mining industry thinks the clean energy transition in “the West” relies on them getting $1.7 trillion.
Chile has moved closer to imposing a hefty copper tax as it seeks to draw more benefits from the world’s largest copper industry. Along with Peru, increasing pressures on miners are worrying global markets.
Australia is supporting a domestic rare earths concentrate producer that wants to construct a processing plant in Western Australia.
In British Columbia, Canada, 12 closed and proposed mines are either currently polluting or have the high potential to do so.
Major lithium miner Albemarle is beginning a recycling business targeting EVs coming offline now.
A Pakistani consortium is seeking to develop a copper-gold deposit that the government had prevented a foreign miner from exploiting. The foreign miners had taken Pakistan to court, where it won $5.8 billion in damages.
Greenpeace says the UK may have unlawfully given deep-sea mining licenses, considering the prevalence of inaccuracies and contradictions with public statements.
Is a mine just a hole in the ground?
Decolonize the Lithium Boom (The New Republic)
The Lithium Gold Rush: Inside the Race to Power Electric Vehicles (The New York Times)
Visualizing the Size of Mine Tailings (Visual Capitalist)
Electric vehicle shift poised to transform Canada’s miners (Financial Times)
A way to recover rare earths from electric motors’ magnets (The Economist)
Old electric cars are a raw material of the future (The Economist)
Drag Commodity Traders Out of the Shadows (The New York Times)
Mining law reform? (The Land Desk)
India's rare earths' race (Light’s On India)
Making Amends with Makatea (Hakai Magazine)
Now unlocked: The ‘other side’ of batteries (PV Magazine)
If you’d like to know how lithium-ion batteries work, play Jenga: