A Mining CEO Predicts The U.S. Lithium Supply Will Run Dry—But Is He Correct?

Learn why the CEO of Piedmont Lithium, one of Tesla’s key lithium suppliers, is predicting that the U.S. may soon run low on lithium, affecting our ability to mass-produce EVs.
Written by Jason Crosby
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Sep 26, 2022
The
U.S. lithium supply
has come to the forefront of recent chatter within the automotive industry. While many of us have known that lithium is a common element used in batteries, EV batteries in particular need lithium to run efficiently. 
The issue is that lithium reserves aren’t equally distributed around the globe, with the largest concentrations being found in China. As a result, the U.S. has placed considerable time and money into securing lithium reserves, but a mining CEO is warning that the country is likely to run out. Is he correct? 
We can’t speak for the U.S.’s lithium reserves—but we can help you secure more affordable
car insurance
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Who is the CEO that’s speaking up about the U.S. lithium supply?

Keith Phillips is the CEO of Piedmont Lithium, a key lithium supplier for
Tesla
and a company that’s sure to be at the forefront of the EV industry in years to come. As
InsideEVs
explains, Philips doesn’t believe that the U.S. lithium supply will be able to keep up with the growing demand for EVs. 
More specifically, Phillips is pointing out that the new tax restrictions on EVs require them to be produced with parts made in the U.S. or from countries that have a free trade agreement with the U.S. While the next few years will give automakers time to fall in line, by 2026, EVs will need to have 80% of their critical materials sourced from the U.S. or a free trade country. 
Philips is quoted by Inside EVs as stating “Yes, we’ll [eventually] have enough, but not by that time. There’s going to be a real crunch to get the material. We don’t have enough in the world to turn that much [lithium] production in the world by 2035."

Why is the U.S. falling behind on lithium reserves?

Part of the issue with the U.S. lithium supply is how long it takes for mining permits to be processed in the U.S., especially compared to other countries. 
In some cases, getting a lithium mining permit in the U.S. can take eight years or more, while in Australia (one of the world’s top lithium producers), permits are usually given out within a year. The U.S. also doesn’t have a lot of lithium mining companies—Piedmont Lithium is one of only a few. 
The tax rules set forth by the Biden Administration certainly help reduce U.S. dependence on lithium, but they also will slow down and limit automakers’ ability to get their hands on lithium. 

How is Piedmont Lithium helping to bolster the U.S. lithium supply?

In 2023, Piedmont Lithium plans to construct a new lithium processing facility in Tennessee and will move on to build a North Carolina facility after that. The mining company will also benefit from the semiconductor bill, which could result in some hefty loans being given out to Piedmont in order to boost their operations. 
These loans have specific terms, though, and will aim to partner Piedmont with American-based carmakers in order to ensure the U.S. lithium supply is kept flowing as the country converts to EVs. 

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