The BMW Group has commissioned two US universities to conduct a scientific analysis of water consumption in the lithium extraction process. The aim of the University of Alaska-Anchorage and University of Massachusetts-Amherst study will be to investigate the impacts of lithium extraction on the hydrologic environment in Latin America.
BASF SE is contributing to finance the study. Both BMW Group and BASF SE are already working successfully together with other partners in the “Cobalt for Development” project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Two-thirds of the world’s lithium reserves are found in Latin America. However, there has so far been a lack of scientific research into how lithium extraction impacts the region. The BMW Group intends to fill this gap with the study it has commissioned.
Electromobility can only be sustainable when the raw materials are also extracted in the most sustainable manner possible. The new study we have commissioned is designed to create a scientific basis for identifying the best options for sourcing lithium. We are delighted to work with two such renowned universities on this study and are certain it will generate important new knowledge about lithium extraction.—Patrick Hudde, head of Indirect Purchasing Raw Materials Management, BMW Group
The final results of the study should be available in the first half of 2022 and will include a five-tier rating system. This rating is designed to provide companies with better guidance on sustainable lithium extraction in Latin America.
The BMW Group is sourcing lithium for its fifth-generation high-voltage batteries itself and making it available to its battery cell supply chains. The company currently sources its Lithium feedstock from Australian mines that use hard rock mining to extract the material.
The condition for the BMW Group to enter into supply contracts with additional Lithium suppliers is that lithium extraction meets the BMW Group’s sustainability standards, and that the companies get certified by the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA). The study commissioned by the company should provide additional information in this context.