With a wide and diverse nature of minerals that are used in the batteries the distribution becomes complex. The availability of the these materials is also not localized that makes the cross border transactions mandatory. To curb this the research is going on to identify some novel elements that can be used that are easily available and economical.
In the present scenario, About 40% of the market share of cobalt will fall in the basket of Glencore, which is one of the biggest commodities company. To make it happen they are planning to expand their production by two folds by 2020. Cobalt ores are concentrated in Democratic republic of Congo (DRC). Cobalt is one of the most crucial elements for the Lithium-ion batteries. But the economists have speculated that the battery manufacturers will go for a Nickel-Manganese-Cobalt cathodes. In this way they can also avoid dealing with the DRC who have a tainted image globally.
When it comes to America the situation is not very good. They rely on imports for 70% of their Lithium and on imports and releases from the National Defense Stockpile for 75-80% of their Cobalt requirements. America has taken a defensive step and President Donald Trump issued an executive order to speed up the search for new minerals at home.
China produces 85% of the worlds rare metals such as Germanium and Indium for solar power and Graphite used in fuel cells. They are used extensively in renewable energy applications like wind turbines. China is also one of the worlds largest refiner of Cobalt which they acquire from DRC.
The scarcity of elements is not an issue as of now as the deposits of lithium say, are 3,000 times the current annual output. The problem however will arise from political ends and will result in manipulation of supply chain. The other problem is extraction, in some parts of the world it is uneconomic to extract the metal from ores. To curb these bottlenecks high investments are being made to ensure better alternatives surface the ocean.