We need global collaboration to create an electric vehicle ecosystem.
This is what John DeMaio, CEO of Graphex Technologies, told us in this week’s Net Hero Podcast.
He said: ‘You see things like the Mineral Strategic Partnership, that’s a step in the [right] direction to say, let’s share the resources and share in the technology.
‘Now, that’s going to obviously be somewhat challenging when you have to now cross political and commercial lines and make everybody happy.
‘But the idea is sound – let’s work together as a planet to do what we’re all trying to do, which is to be more sustainable.’
John told us that the demand for graphite is increasing.
He said: ‘In the case of graphite, there’s plenty of it on the planet. It hasn’t been really accessed because it hasn’t really been that profitable to do so.
‘If you’re going to spend the capex to build out a mine and put up with ten years of regulatory hurdle jumping, you’re going to mine something more profitable like lithium or gold.
‘Now it’s starting to make sense, to mine graphite because it’s got a huge demand in electric vehicles but there’s also other ancillary uses.
‘When you look at the sheer volume of critical mineral needed going forward as this proliferation of, not only EVs but also energy storage systems, graphite plays a very important role in that.’
Mr DeMaio said that China has so far controlled the electrification market.
He added: ‘China decided to dominate the electrification space 20 years ago. I remember when they were securing critical minerals around the world and the rest of the world just ignored it.
‘Now, in the case of graphite, they have an even more of a stranglehold. The largest graphite deposit on the planet is in the Northeast province of China. So they’ve been mining that for decades.
‘They’ve built ecosystems to support the proliferation of critical mineral processing.
‘For example, our processing plant is located in a graphite industrial park, purpose built to process graphite.
‘We don’t have that in places like America.
‘And here in North America, on the electric vehicle front, we started by fabricating vehicles. Now we’re building as a society, we’re building gigafactories to make the batteries and the next step is to build out the infrastructure to supply those batteries with the critical minerals that they need.
‘All in an endeavour to insulate ourselves from geopolitical tensions.’
But America has a long way to go in building an EV infrastructure.
‘There is no industry here right now. There’s an automotive industry, for sure. It’s been around for over 100 years.
‘[But] there’s not really an electric vehicle ecosystem. Now there are electric vehicle manufacturers. There are starting to be battery makers but the rest of the process chain is not really in place.
‘There’s really not much mining and there’s not a lot of midstream processing like the work that we do.’
Recent legislation, however, is paving the way to a better electric infrastructure.
‘The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) does motivate the buildout of that infrastructure.
‘It’s not going to happen overnight [but] the IRA pokes the right buttons in rewarding consumers for adoption of electric vehicles.
‘It’s the right kind of approach, which is to assist with the demand that people inherently want to go electric.’
Watch the full podcast below to find out more about graphene and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.