Demand for lithium, and therefore its mining, will drastically increase during the next few years, due mostly to the rise of electric vehicles. Today, about 60% of the lithium mined in the world is used in electric vehicles, and this share is set to increase further. Some projections estimate that by 2040, the annual consumption of lithium for electric vehicles alone will be 8 times the current global mining production.
This demand explosion raises numerous issues: the ability to extract the required quantities, the potential new forms of European dependency on other countries, the industrial feasibility of such exploitation, and the major social, environmental, and health-related impacts that it generates.
In this note, the négaWatt Association analyses current and potential lithium extraction, its impacts, and possible alternatives. It also discusses the role of this metal in the négaWatt energy transition scenario for France, as well as the recent French mining project in the Allier region.