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EV makers confront risk of runaway prices for battery metals

New technologies and recycling could ease demand for lithium, cobalt and nickel

A nickel mine in Indonesia: Demand for the metal is forecast to soar.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Makers of electric vehicles and EV batteries have staked claim to both supplies and alternatives to lithium, cobalt and nickel as fast-rising prices of these crucial metals threaten to soar higher in the coming years.

The International Energy Agency estimates global demand for lithium will be 42 times greater in 2040 than in 2020, assuming a target of keeping Earth's temperature increase below 2 C. Cobalt demand is projected to increase by a factor of 21, while nickel use grows by a factor of 19.

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