The hidden toll of electric cars, Part 1
As the demand for electric vehicles soars and more minerals are needed for production, manganese mine workers in South Africa are experiencing mysterious health problems.
While you may not have heard about manganese, it’s a key ingredient in making electric cars move. Minerals such as cobalt, lithium and manganese are used to manufacture electric and gas-powered vehicles. But electric cars typically require six times the mineral input of conventional vehicles.
The demand for manganese – and electric vehicles more broadly – is rising fast, while states such as California and New York move to ban the sale of gas-powered cars over the next decade. President Biden is also pushing for electric vehicles to make up at least half of new car sales by 2030. Despite the real benefits of going electric, the sourcing of raw materials in electric vehicles carries serious human, environmental and geopolitical costs that are often overlooked by consumers, manufacturers and policymakers.
Today on “Post Reports,” West Africa bureau chief Rachel Chason travels to South Africa to visit with manganese mine workers, many of whom experienced health problems over the years. Troubling symptoms that some workers discovered are probably linked to manganese poisoning.
More from The Post’s bigger series, “Clean Cars, Hidden Toll”:
- In the scramble for EV metals, Afghanistan is of interest to the Taliban and Chinese prospectors
- To meet EV demand, industry turns to technology long deemed hazardous.
- Despite reforms, mining for EV metals in Congo exacts steep cost for workers.
- On the frontier of new “gold rush,” quest for coveted EV metals yields misery.
- Minerals are crucial for electric cars and wind turbines. Some worry whether we have enough.