The rising cost of #Cobalt is pushing companies to find ways to reduce reliance on the mineral. However, getting to a point where batteries do not need a lot of cobalt is between five and 10 years away, so the window for upside is there. Mining companies certainly seem to think so, anyway: miners in #Europe, North #America, and #Asia are starting to chip away at the hegemony of #Chinese and Congolese cobalt. While #China leads the world as a refined cobalt producer, the DMC supplies 60% of global cobalt.
Locking in supplies of key battery raw materials #Lithium and #Cobalt has been a headache for electric car manufacturers, but these days it’s the supply of #Nickel and #Graphite that’s keeping them up at night.
Investors and miners are already alert to the risk that nickel supply will fall short of demand. Research commissioned by commodities trading giant Glencore Plc indicates that global demand for nickel in electric vehicles will hit nearly 1 million metric tons by 2030. That amounts to 55 percent of the metal produced globally in 2017. Prices look set to double by 2022, but producers still aren’t likely to keep up with demand from the automotive industry, according to Wood Mackenzie.
#China’s grip on rare-earths supply is so strong that the #US joined with other nations earlier this decade in a World Trade Organization case to force the nation to export more of the materials, not less, after prices spiked amid a global shortage. The WTO ruled in favor of the U.S., while prices eventually slumped as manufacturers turned to alternatives.
Imposing duties will “bring home to the American public the reality of how much of what they use in everyday life contains these technology metals,” Jack Lifton, the Michigan-based founder of rare earth consulting service Technology Metals Research LLC, said by phone. “The Chinese mine the rare-earths, they separate them, they refine them. This is the long-term trend and a 10 percent tariff will not do anything to stir any domestic production in the U.S.”
#Nickel, #Manganese and #Cobalt (NMC) batteries are favoured by most of the world’s automakers and the industry is hard at work to reduce pricey cobalt loadings in favour of greater use of nickel.
Light passenger EVs using batteries with a 8:1:1 NMC ratio, which should become widely deployed over the next decade, require roughly 52 kilograms of nickel. Last year 3 million battery electric vehicles were sold. By 2025 battery electric vehicles could reach nearly 15 million unit sales with plug-in hybrids accounting for an additional 10 million vehicles.
#Chinese battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd (#CATL) will build its first production site in #Europe in #Germany, agreeing a major contract with #BMW to supply #Lithium-ion batteries.
Chemical giant BASF has acquired Advanc3D and Setup Performance, two companies focused on making SLS powders.
#India is scrambling to acquire #Lithium and #Cobalt mines abroad, along with other resources, to ensure that it has access to such strategic minerals, with #China having already taken a substantial lead in the race, much in the manner that it has done so in oil and gas.