The United States imports many of the minerals used in EV batteries, such as cobalt, graphite, lithium, manganese, and nickel, with lithium being the predominant mineral. Although use of these minerals is not restricted to battery production for EVs, they are nonetheless important for meeting the increasing demand for EV production.
From 2016-2019, more than 90% of the lithium imported to the United States came from Argentina (55%) and Chile (36%).
During this same time period, Gabon produced 69% of the manganese imported to the United States, while imports of cobalt, graphite and nickel were not as heavily dependent on a single country.
In terms of US net import reliance, 100% of graphite and manganese was imported, 76% of cobalt was imported, and about 50% of lithium and nickel was imported in 2020.
Source: US Geological Survey, Mineral Commodity Summaries 2021.
Excluding US production, worldwide lithium production in 2021 increased by 21% to approximately 100,000 tons from 82,500 tons in 2020 in response to strong demand from the lithium-ion battery market and increased prices of lithium, according to the US Geological Survey. Global consumption of lithium in 2021 was estimated to be 93,000 tons, a 33% increase from 70,000 tons in 2020.