According to Dr. Michael Moats, professor and interim chair of materials science and engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology, adaption to cleaner energy sources has reduced coal production. However, it has increased the mining efforts of other precious materials used in battery production and charging stations.
“We could eventually reach some of our materials needs by recycling, but there is very little to recycle at this point,” says Moats. “So, we’re going to have to bring on new mines to meet the demand.”
Moats goes on to say that the current mining of cobalt, for instance, requires up to 100,000 tons to meet the current demand. To meet future green energy needs, he suggests this could double by 2030 and triple by 2050. Currently, the Democratic Republic of Congo is producing the highest amount of Cobalt, which is refined by China.”
Moats says the United States has cobalt assets in Missouri, Minnesota, and Idaho, but production trails other sources because the U.S. permit process takes years. Resources in the U.S. are small compared with countries such as Canada, he adds, and the U.S. lacks the smelters to refine the materials from ore and existing mine tailings.
Moats explains that within the U.S.A. there are cobalt assets in Missouri, Idaho, and Minnesota, but these production efforts fall behind other sources due to the time it can take for the U.S. permit processes, which is reported to take up to several years to complete.
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