Last week, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced that it would cut graphite exports in a move that has the potential to cripple the global electric vehicle industry. With tensions between China and the United States and its allies rising in recent years, nations such as the U.S. are keen on cutting their reliance on China to limit the Asian country’s leverage in the nascent electric vehicle industry.
Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are powered by lithium-ion batteries and produce zero emissions at the tailpipe, making them a perfect replacement for the internal combustion engine (ICE) cars that currently rule the roads. In fact, most Western nations have pledged to replace ICE vehicles with BEVs over the next couple of decades and are currently investing billions of dollars into building local EV fleets. However, China plays an overwhelmingly large role in the global battery metals market, producing a majority of key EV battery metals in a monopoly that has left many Western leaders worried.
The Chinese Ministry of Commerce’s recent cut of graphite exports is an example of how precarious the electric vehicle supply chain is thanks to China’s monopoly. Last year alone, China produced almost two-thirds of the world’s graphite supply and nearly all of the world’s spherical graphite.
The cut comes amid an increase in global EV demand and could significantly hamper electric vehicle production outside of China. Furthermore, it came just days after U.S. officials announced new restrictions on the export of high-tech semiconductor chips to China. While Chinese officials say the move is due to national security concerns, the announcement escalates a trade war between the two superpowers that has been going on since 2018.
Graphite accounts for close to 50% of electric battery raw materials by weight and is used to make critical battery parts such as the anode. Demand for the metal has soared with increased electric vehicle production, and the World Bank predicts that global demand for graphite will increase by 500% over the next 30 years, thanks to the proliferation of electric cars and other clean-energy infrastructure.
According to consulting firm Kearney, EV startups and established automakers such as Tesla, Rivian, Ford and GM, will have to drastically reduce their reliance on China and its graphite exports to limit the risk of EV shortages. Sourcing battery metals from local suppliers or friendly nations would also qualify electric cars for U.S. government subsidies and make their offerings more affordable.
As China escalates its trade war with the United States by curbing exports of critical metals, the work being done by North American companies such as Ucore Rare Metals Inc. (TSX.V: UCU) (OTCQX: UURAF) is vital to ensuring that America and other western powers can have dependable supply chains of the needed metals to keep the transition to EVs on course.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Ucore Rare Metals Inc. (TSX.V: UCU) (OTCQX: UURAF) are available in the company’s newsroom at http://ibn.fm/UURAF
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