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"Conflict Minerals" in Tesla battery pack?

Discussion in 'Tesla, Inc.' started by clmason, Dec 17, 2013.

  1. clmason

    clmason Member

    Sep 29, 2011
    San Diego
    Does anyone here know if the Telsa Battery Pack contains "conflict minerals"? If, yes, which?

    I'm not trying to instigate a fight or moral judgement, just curious to know if the battery pack contains these materials.
    To the original question, would large scale adoption of Tesla cars exacerbate the injustice relating to the mining of these materials? Thoughts on this subject?

    Thanks in advance for replies.
  2. Lloyd

    Lloyd Well-Known Member

    Jan 12, 2011
    San Luis Obispo, CA
    #2 Lloyd, Dec 17, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2013
    Conflict minerals are minerals mined in conditions of armed conflict and human rights abuses, mostly in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, by the Congolese National Army, and various armed rebel groups, including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP), a proxy Rwandan militia group. The looting of the Congo's natural resources is not limited to domestic actors; during the Congo Wars, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi particularly profited from the Congo's resources. These governments have continued to smuggle resources out of the Congo to this day. The profits from the sale of these minerals finance continued fighting in the Second Congo War, and control of lucrative mines becomes a focus of the fighting as well.[1] The most commonly mined minerals are cassiterite, wolframite, coltan, and gold, which are extracted from the Eastern Congo, and passed through a variety of intermediaries before being purchased by multinational electronics companies.

    These minerals are essential in the manufacture of a variety of devices, including consumer electronics such as mobile phones, laptops, and MP3 players.[2]

    The extraction and sale of blood diamonds, also known as "conflict diamonds", is a better-known phenomenon which occurs under virtually identical conditions.

    The minerals[edit]

    Currently, the list consists of only four minerals:
    Columbite-tantalite (or coltan, the colloquial African term) is the metal ore from which the element tantalum is extracted. Tantalum is used primarily for the production of capacitors, particularly for applications requiring high performance, a small compact format and high reliability, ranging widely from hearing aids and pacemakers, to airbags, GPS, ignition systems and anti-lock braking systems in automobiles, through to laptop computers, mobile phones, video game consoles, video cameras and digital cameras.[5] In its carbide form, tantalum possesses significant hardness and wear resistance properties. As a result, it is used in jet engine/turbine blades, drill bits, end mills and other tools.
    Cassiterite is the chief ore needed to produce tin, essential for the production of tin cans and solder on the circuit boards of electronic equipment.[6] Tin is also commonly a component of biocides, fungicides and as tetrabutyl tin/tetraoctyl tin, an intermediate in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and high performance paint manufacturing.
    Wolframite is an important source of the element tungsten. Tungsten is a very dense metal and is frequently used for this property, such as in fishing weights, dart tips and golf club heads. Like tantalum carbide, tungsten carbide possesses hardness and wear resistance properties and is frequently used in applications like metalworking tools, drill bits and milling. Smaller amounts are used to substitute lead in "green ammunition".[7] Minimal amounts are used in electronic devices, including the vibration mechanism of cell phones.
    Gold is used in jewelry, electronics, and dental products. It is also present in some chemical compounds used in certain semiconductor manufacturing processes.

    These are sometimes referred to as "the 3T's and gold", 3TG, or even simply the "3T's". Under the US Conflict Minerals Law, additional minerals may be added to this list in the future.
  3. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

    Apr 2, 2010
    Ottawa, Canada
    According to Conflict minerals - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia the relevant minerals are:

    • Columbite-tantalite, ore from which you extract tantalum, used in some types of capacitors (an electronic component).
    • Cassiterite, ore from which you extract tin widely used in circuit boards and solder, among other things.
    • Wolframite, ore from which you extract tungsten used in incandescent light bulbs, etc. Not widely used for electronics, except for certain unusual devices such as your iPhone's vibration gizzmo.
    • Gold, widely used but in extremely small quantities as an anti-corrosive conductive coating in electronics products.

    These materials would be used in just about any electronics product, including your computer, your TV, your iPhone, and your car whether electric or not. No doubt the battery pack contains some quantity of these materials, as the pack contains electronic boards for monitoring and control purposes.

    As for the source of the materials used, that's a question that needs to be directed at the electronics industry as a whole. Tesla uses the same supply chains for their electronics that everyone else does.
  4. AudubonB

    AudubonB Mild-mannered Moderator Lord Vetinari*

    Mar 24, 2013
  5. tom66

    tom66 Member

    Dec 17, 2013
    United Kingdom
    I would say as an EE about 80% of my boards in some way or another use tantalum capacitors.

    They are preferred for small size, high reliability, rugged form factor and low impedance. In comparable hot automotive applications, electrolytic capacitors with appropriate ratings are generally bigger and cost the same or more.

    If the Tesla battery does not use any tantalums on its BMS boards, then I can pretty much guarantee you will find tantalum capacitors elsewhere, like in the touchscreen and instrument cluster. They are nearly impossible to avoid.

    But most coltan ore does not originate from Congo. Australia, Brazil and Canada are the big three suppliers.
  6. trils0n

    trils0n 2013 P85

    Feb 12, 2013
    SF Bay Area
    I'd say the battery pack itself uses very little or even none of these materials. The electronics/computers in the car (and every other car) might contain some of these materials.
  7. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

    Apr 2, 2010
    Ottawa, Canada
    The electronics boards in the pack would have them. That's a very small portion of the overall pack weight. Probably similar to a TV.

    Again, this isn't necessarily an issue; they get the stuff the same place everyone else does. As tom66 said, most are from Australia, Brazil, and here - Canada.
  8. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

    Aug 20, 2007
    Central New York
    Cobalt is used in the pack, most of which comes from the Congo and Zambia, so it would seem to qualify as a "conflict mineral".
  9. techmaven

    techmaven Active Member

    Feb 27, 2013
    Hmm.. interesting.

    Why Cobalt Is Not a Conflict Mineral

    From AIAG:

  10. Plug Me In

    Plug Me In Member

    Nov 29, 2012
    Central Virginia
    Also, the battery replaces a significant conflict commodity - oil.

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