The Taiwan The strait is fast becoming what could be the next major flashpoint, as Beijing continued to carry out more military exercises around Taiwan this week as a group of US politicians traveled to the island nation to interviews. However, the conflict is not without consequences, as experts have warned that China the dominance of the global lithium supply chain could deal a crippling blow to the West’s plans to switch to electric vehicles (VE).
Lithium is an essential element in the manufacture of efficient batteries for electric vehicles, which gives Beijing a considerable advantage in this industry, as China has major investments in all parts of the battery manufacturing supply chain. .
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Jason Kaplan of Commodities Insight and Analysis warned of China’s massive control over the industry.
He said: “About 99% of lithium processing is done in China.
“It could be dug up somewhere else shipped to China and then from there it will be shipped to a battery factory, for example in Finland or Norway.”
He noted that until just a few years ago, Beijing’s market share in electric vehicles was greater than all other players in the world combined.
One of the main reasons China processes most of the lithium is its highly polluting process that EU countries have avoided.
He said: “When you think about the origin of lithium, it comes from Chile, Bolivia and Australia.
“They don’t have lithium processing there, so it has to be processed somewhere.
“It’s not a very clean process, there are effluents to get rid of, but China is pretty accommodating that way.
“It’s pretty hard to do anything in Europe that creates environmental by-products.”
He noted that while China could “theoretically” stop exports of refined lithium, “it’s probably less damaging than if it stopped lithium battery exports.”
Indeed, given the number of battery companies in China, a company could simply buy the refined lithium and export the batteries.
Mr Kaplan added that a ban on batteries would make Europe’s transition to electric vehicles much more difficult.
He said, “We are currently building many giga-factories, but if you have the raw materials, that’s a problem.
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