According to the World Bank, the current global production capacity of key minerals like copper, cobalt, and lithium will need to increase 500 percent by 2050 to meet the demands of the clean energy transition. Improved recycling can help soften this demand. Nonetheless, much of the 3 billion tons of material the World Bank estimates will be needed to keep global warming below 2 degrees centigrade comes from the earth’s crust.
China already consumes as many battery minerals as the rest of the world combined, and as demand grows it has been forced overseas to secure its domination of battery supply chains. China has domestic manganese and graphite resources, but for copper, nickel, cobalt, and lithium, it has been imperative to look overseas.