Lithium producers and battery manufacturers warn that classifying this metal as a reproductive toxin it could severely damage the electric car industry at a time when it needs to shine. lithium is a key component for batteries in electric vehicles and this proposal from the European Union could stigmatize it, which could have important consequences both in the production costs of the vehicles and in the final sale price.
Lithium is a chemical element that in its pure state is a soft, silver-colored metal. It is widely used in pharmaceuticals, industrial lubricants, and specialty glasses. In addition, lithium is part of the anodes of batteries in consumer electronics and electric vehicles. Electric vehicle batteries can use lithium carbonate or hydroxide of lithium. Their quantities are expressed in lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) that contains both.
This month, the European Commission is considering a proposal it has received that would place to the lithium carbonate, lithium hydroxide and lithium chloride in the highest category of reproductive and developmental toxinsbased in part on human studies conducted in the 1980s and 1990s. open letter addressed to politicians, the pressure groups Eurobat, the International Lithium Association and Eurometaux assure that this classification could stigmatize the use of materials and reduce investment in the electric vehicle sector.
Electric vehicles play a crucial role in the European Union’s efforts to care for the environment. Manufacturers have warned that rising material prices and supply chain bottlenecks threaten their deployment. In the letter, lobbyists expressed concern about the scientific justification that would lead to this classification. The result is that it could lead to lithium being established as a “substance of very high concern”, putting it right up there with the serious mutagenic and carcinogenic toxins that the European Union wants to phase out by restricting its use.
As a consequence, all European efforts to boost local production of lithium, which the Commission itself designated as critical raw material in 2020They will have been useless. “If the three lithium salts go down this path, it could have significant unintended consequences in the EU, calling into question the long-term viability of lithium production, refining, use and recycling,” says the Secretary General of the International Lithium Association. Lithium, Roland Chavasse in an email.
Categorize these chemicals as reproductive and developmental toxins could impose higher costs on buyers and reduce producers’ marginswhich would make it harder to justify further investment in the industry, according to Francesco Gattiglio, director of EU foreign affairs at Albemarle.