As electric vehicles (EVs) gain in popularity, so does demand for the raw materials that go into making batteries for those EVs. Some of these key ingredients can be difficult to source, and can also be limited in supply.
A recent discovery in Germany’s Rhine River Valley means lithium might not be one of those key ingredients in short supply.
German authorities recently announced that a massive lithium deposit was discovered under the river, potentially holding enough to make 400 million EVs.
In the Upper-Rhine Valley in the Black Forest area of southwestern Germany, the area is as large as 300km (186 miles) long and up to 40km (25 miles) wide. The lithium is in underground springs thousands of meters below the surface, and if the estimates are accurate it would be one of the largest lithium deposits in the world.
Companies are already interested in mining the deposit, like Australia’s Vulcan Energy Resources. The company believes it could be extracting as much as 15,000 tons of lithium hydroxide at two different sites by 2024. After 2025 that number could grow to 40,000 tons per year at three more sites.
It won’t be easy though. Most lithium mines today are located in remote areas with little to no population to oppose them. That’s not the case here and officials are worried about local opposition.
Germany’s car industry has already expressed interest in the lithium, with both BMW and Mercedes Benz monitoring the potential project.