The Bottleneck: Why Lithium Mines Cannot Keep Up

Every optimistic prediction about the growth of the EV market is a lie. It takes almost 10 years for a lithium mining project to be fully developed, and even if all current projects are completed on time there will be a serious shortfall of lithium before 2030.

“Unfortunately, battery capacity can be built much faster than lithium projects,” said Joe Lowry, president of consulting firm Global Lithium. “The lack of investment in lithium capacity over the past five years will extend the supply shortage.”

The situation is so critical that Lowry didn’t want to make demand forecasts beyond 2027 —the supply-demand imbalance could be so serious that supply might end up capping demand, so forecasting beyond that could be misleading, he said.

“Even well-capitalized major lithium companies have struggled to meet their expansion targets,” Lowry said. “New producers have seen their project timelines extended in many cases due to Covid and related supply chain issues along with their ‘learning curves’ OEMs and battery producers that assumed ‘market forces’ would ensure adequate battery raw materials are finally taking note of the supply-demand issue but much too late to solve the problem in the near to mid-term.”

The outlook described by Lowry is confirmed by Platts’ comparison between the expected supply and the expected demand until 2030 (see infographic below), which shows that supply should not reach the projected 2 million mt demand by the end of the decade.

A Shortfall of Mined Lithium

Alternative battery technologies will also take at least 10 years to develop, probably longer. That means that other kinds of batteries will not be relieving the lithium shortage any time soon.

It is time for governments to back off of their EV mandates and their internal combustion engine prohibitions. Either they let the markets and the consumers make these choices for themselves, or governments will create major instabilities and hardships with their heavy-handed — but empty-headed — overreach.

This is not a declaration of “peak lithium” by any means. The lithium is there. But it takes time and a lot of water and dirty work to make it ready to turn into batteries for EVs and electronics products.

First of all, about 80 percent of all lithium in the world is sourced and processed in China. Strained international relations or unforseen events in this region could cut off the U.S.’s lithium supply. To prevent this, the U.S. has declared lithium an essential resource and has been exploring domestic alternatives which are concentrated in California and Nevada. As setting up lithium extraction sites is a slow process, the U.S. is relying heavily on metal from Australia and South America at the moment…

Environmental issues 

Some current lithium extraction mechanisms are detrimental to the environment: the process typically requires massive resources, which contribute to water, land, and air pollution. The two main forms of lithium mining today are open pit/hard rock mines and brine extraction sites. Open-pit mines are essentially large holes in the ground – aka, the image that typically comes to mind when you think ‘mine.’ These excavation sites release dangerous chemicals including arsenic into the surrounding groundwater and are incredibly resource-intensive, releasing 15,000 kilograms (kg) of carbon dioxide emissions per one ton of lithium extracted – not quite as environmentally friendly as we’d like to see! 

On the other hand, brine extraction operates by pumping lithium-rich water out from under hypersaline lakes and filtering the metal out. This method is even more water-intensive than the hard rock mine, and drains water out of already drought-plagued regions while polluting the local aquifers. Check out our article on why lithium mining is so controversial to learn more about the problems with current extraction processes.

Lithium Production Problems

On Other Topics: Remember Peak Oil?

If you believe in “peak oil” now, you probably also believed in “peak oil” 20 years ago, in 2003. The early 2000s were a golden age for peak oil, with lots of books being written on the topic, and many speakers roaming the world giving talks and seminars as experts on why the world as we knew it was soon coming to an end.

But there have not been a lot of new converts to “peak oil” since the onset of the 2010s and the coming of American shale oil & gas. For one thing, the US reversed its decline in oil production in dramatic fashion, becoming for a time the world’s largest oil producer once again. For another thing, the predicted collapse of Saudi Arabian oil fields never happened, destroying one of the main themes of the “peak oil” orthodoxy.

Anyone who was paying attention knew what was going to happen, even 15 or 20 years ago. But human beliefs have very little to do with paying attention or thinking carefully. Back then, “peak oil” was a hot topic that fit the dominant narrative, and so it was easy for drifting minds to latch on to the idea, and to feel important for believing in it.

These days climate apocalypse is the “end of the world du jour.” True believers and alarmist promoters of climate apocalypse only wish that “peak oil” were a problem. But most cannot bring themselves to reach out to another apocalyptic belief, when the one they are riding on seems quite sufficient for now. It gives their lives a sense of meaning.

Links Between Viral Illness and Neurodegenerative Disorders

New research looking at health records from nearly half a million people has identified 22 different associations between viral infections and neurodegenerative diseases. Influenza, encephalitis and other viral infections all were linked to increased rates of brain diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and MS.

The idea that viral infections can play a role in the development of neurodegenerative disease isn’t particularly new. Back in the 1950s microbial infections were suggested to be the source of many neurodegenerative diseases, with herpes in particular hypothesized to be deeply associated with the development of Alzheimer’s.

Although the idea sat on the fringes of neuroscience for decades, it has recently been drifting into the mainstream after a handful of key studies uncovered strong, novel evidence. In particular, a study published early in 2022 presented robust causal evidence linking the development of multiple sclerosis (MS) to infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).

New Atlas

The above “research” is actually a study in data mining, or statistical fishing for associations in a database ocean. Such studies can be useful for planning epidemiological and eventually clinical research which can help to establish “causal” proof. Genuine research on people is very expensive, so computer association studies can help to winnow out avenues of study which might be more fruitful.

If You Made a Perfect World, Would You Put Black People In It?

In a virginal perfect world, it pays to be very selective when populating it with people. Rough statistical stratification on the basis of crude racial categories could easily lead you astray, if you want the best and most promising young population for your new world. You would have to look at new immigrants on a case by case basis, and select carefully on a broad range of categories.

As the human populations of Earth diverged and evolved separately over tens and hundreds of thousands of years, different ensembles of gene alleles served to embody fitness and to facilitate survival. The mean IQ of a group of Igbo tribesmen from Nigeria may be roughly the same as the mean IQ of a group of German townsmen, but the specific gene ensembles used by the different groups to get the same mean IQ is apt to be different. The same is true for comparisons of high IQ groups from Northern Europe with other selected groups from East Asia or South Asia with equivalent mean IQs. The IQ may be the same, but the gene assemblies utilized to achieve those IQs will be different.

We will learn a great deal more about the different high IQ ensembles of genes used by different divergent breeding populations as we grow beyond current radical left censorship and groupthink in “science.” Much of the research in the meantime may have to be done under the radar.

Russia After Putin: What Are the Possibilities?

Now that Russia has been so greatly damaged and diminished by President Vladimir Putin’s reckless war of choice in Ukraine, what might the country’s future hold? Plausible scenarios range from a power grab by a hard-line security adviser like Nikolai Patrushev to an election victory by a dissident like Alexei Navalny. But one thing is almost certain: Putin’s regime will not survive the war he started.

One Viewpoint

Hitler’s regime did not survive the war in Europe that Hitler started. The same is true for the militaristic government of Japan that started the war in Asia and the Pacific. Napoleon did not survive his wars for long after exile on St. Helena. Wars of conquest trigger unpredictable instabilities and counter-alliances which often lead to the collapse of the invading entity.

In Putin’s mind, Ukraine was already conquered before his army had even crossed international borders. He had already worked it out in his mind, and he could see no problems whatsoever in taking and raping the country and its inhabitants. Almost a year after his fateful decision, and it is not clear whether Putin is even alive. But as long as the Kremlin has serviceable doubles to stand in for the little guy, Russia’s leaders will not have to face the decision considered in the article linked above.

China is looking on with a proprietary gleam in its eye

In Limbo, Waiting for Massive Disruption

As long as the western world is dominated by a billionaire-financed top-down suffocating stagnation of ideological left censorship and “social action” driven suicidal policies, the globe will suffer from a chaotic absence of wisdom and direction. Regional conflicts such as the Putin invasion, a possible invasion of Taiwan by China, and a war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, will interfere with critical supply lines of energy, fertilizer, highest quality semiconductors, and minerals including lithium, among other things.

Education, media, entertainment, and high tech corporations have joined governments in the ideological twist to left radical groupthink as a pretense for policies of ultimate self destruction. All financed by billionaire opportunists who own the media/corps and control governments and academia and believe they will benefit from whatever is left on the other side of the crossing.

Disruption — the kind that comes from the creative destruction arising from innovation in a free society with property rights and rule of law — is the friend of an expansive and abundant future. But it is the enemy of those status quo overlords who are riding the froth of their own making. From disruption can arise something newer and more clever. And perhaps less corrupt than our current overlords.

Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. It is never too late for a Dangerous Childhood © .

More: It’s still cheaper to drive a gasoline powered car The farther you drive, the more you will thank the stars for petrol power.

Electric vehicle follies

Electric planes vs reality:

Using estimates for current battery densities and plane weight restrictions, the analysts estimated that 19-seat battery-powered aircraft would have a maximum cruise range of about 260 km (160 miles), significantly less than the company’s claim of 250 miles.

… Reserve requirements could severely limit the true range of electric planes. A plane needs extra capacity to circle the airport for 30 minutes in case it can’t land right away, and it must also be able to reach an alternative airport 100 km (60 miles) away in an emergency.

When you take all that into account, the usable range of a 19-seat plane goes from about 160 miles to about 30 miles. For a larger aircraft like the 100-seat planes that Wright is building, it’s less than six miles. 

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2 Responses to The Bottleneck: Why Lithium Mines Cannot Keep Up

  1. Improbus says:

    If you want a clear eyed analysis of our energy, commodity and economic issues you should check out the MacroVoices podcast (Audio: / Youtube:

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