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Manganese: Is it the Forgotten Battery Mineral?

Josh Snow

Demand for batteries is growing exponentially as global sales of electric vehicles are forecast to increase from 1.1 million in 2017 to 11 million in 2025. By 2030 the increase of electric vehicles is expected to soar to a fleet of 30 million.  In the same period, components of lithium ion batteries will increase from approximately 0.7 million metric tonnes in 2018 to over 10 million metric tonnes.  As of 2035, it is expected that there will be an on-road fleet of 140 million electric vehicles.  55% of all new car sales and 33% of global fleets are expected to be electric by 2040.
Whilst electric vehicles are commonly considered key for increasing battery consumption, off grid power storage is also a key demand driver. With the increasing push to reduce pollution, countries are increasingly turning to renewable electricity generation.  Renewable resources such as wind and solar can be highly volatile in their energy production, which creates issues for continuous grid supply.  The solution to this is off grid power storage through the use of battery technology, a solution we have already started to see unfolding in South Australia.
Cost will be a significant factor as the battery market expands. 
Current battery compositions contain various combinations of cobalt, nickel, manganese and aluminium. These transition metals are suitable due to their various natural ionic states and capacity to hold and discharge electrons.  Of these minerals, manganese offers the cheapest solution for producers of battery technology, being more than 43 times cheaper than cobalt.  Manganese is the lowest cost mineral to extract it has the second highest reported reserves of all minerals commonly utilised within battery cathodes.

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