‘You dig up 500,000 pounds of the earth’s crust for just one battery’
Driving an electric car has been heralded as a moral virtue and, of late, the solution to record-high gas prices.
There’s certainly a benefit from curbing air pollution, but the question is, at what cost?
In a column highlighted by Powerline blogger John Hinderaker, engineer and energy expert and author of the 2021 book “Clean Energy Exploitations: Helping Citizens Understand the Environmental and Humanity Abuses That Support Clean Energy”. Ronald Stein examines the source of the power and the materials in batteries. He concludes EVs are bad for the environment, and serious ethical questions are raised by the conditions under which the materials are mined.
Stein argues in a column titled “Is it ethical to purchase a lithium battery powered EV?” that entire mountains are eliminated by just one lithium supply mine.
“Each mine usually consists of thirty-five to forty humongous 797 Caterpillar haul trucks along with hundreds of other large equipment,” he writes. “Each 797 uses around half a million gallons of diesel a year. So, with an inventory of just thirty-five the haul trucks alone are using 17.5 million gallons of fuel a year for just one lithium site.”
A typical EV battery, Stein notes, weighs 1,000 pounds, contains 25 pounds of lithium, 60 pounds of nickel, 44 pounds of manganese, 30 pounds of cobalt, 200 pounds of copper and 400 pounds of aluminum, steel and plastic. Inside are over 6,000 individual lithium-ion cells.
“To manufacture each EV auto battery, you must process 25,000 pounds of brine for the lithium, 30,000 pounds of ore for the cobalt, 5,000 pounds of ore for the nickel, and 25,000 pounds of ore for copper. All told, you dig up 500,000 pounds of the earth’s crust for just one battery.”