Energy Secretary Granholm says U.S. needs to produce more EV minerals

(Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm on Tuesday said the United States needs to boost domestic production of the minerals used to make electric vehicles, so long as it is done sustainably.

Granholm also suggested coal miners – who have been affected by falling demand from the power-generation sector – could transition to digging for EV metals.

“Having (coal workers) mine for critical materials is a natural shift for them,” said Granholm, a former Michigan governor who was confirmed last month as secretary.

Read more at: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-mining-granholm-idINKBN2B12QA

#BHP moves #nickel and #copper HQ to #Toronto as #Canada emerges as new clean-tech mining hotspot

Australia’s BHP Group Ltd. is moving its exploration headquarters for nickel and copper — two metals expected to see increased future demand because of electric vehicle industry growth — to Toronto.

The company’s announcement Wednesday comes after a BHP subsidiary Rio Algom Ltd. struck a partnership in August with Canadian junior Midland Exploration Inc. to fund nickel exploration in northern Quebec.

Read more at: https://financialpost.com/commodities/mining/bhp-moves-nickel-and-copper-hq-to-toronto-as-canada-emerges-as-new-mining-hotspot

#Tesla or #Tsingshan: #nickel market at crossroads

Nickel buyers on the London Metal Exchange (LME) got a taste of this feeling at the end of February. The metal’s price dived from almost $20,000 (£14,500) a tonne (t) in the last week of February to just over $16,100/t by the first week of March. 

Chinese steelmaker Tsingshan sent shockwaves through the mining industry when it announced (according Reuters) it had signed a deal to supply two battery manufacturers with 100,000 tonnes of nickel matte. Some context is needed for this to make sense as news that could knock 20 per cent off the nickel price. 

This Tsingshan deal effectively sees the company promise to fill class 1 demand with class 2 supply, possibly removing the price gap and supply concerns. Nickel matte, which Tsingshan is selling, is the last step in a lot of processing that sees Tsingshan’s laterite ore turned to nickel pig iron, then into nickel matte, which can be then processed into pure nickel as needed by the battery makers. This isn’t just sending the ore around the plant a few more times, this process will add cost and the carbon footprint compared to class 1 nickel supply. 

Read more at: https://www.investorschronicle.co.uk/news/2021/03/09/tesla-or-tsingshan-nickel-market-at-crossroads/

#bloomberg: World’s Top #Nickel Producer, #indonesia, Sets Out End-to-End Battery Ambition

Indonesia laid down its plans to have a complete battery production line onshore, with a state-owned holding firm to be set up by June.

The country has drafted an “end-to-end development” plan that would see four state firms supplying nickel ore, processing nickel sulfate and cobalt sulfate, and then producing cathodes and batteries, Agus Tjahajana, who heads the task force on electric-vehicle development, said in a Thursday seminar.

Resource-rich Indonesia, home to a quarter of the world’s nickel reserves, has set its sights on moving up the supply chain to become a global hub for battery-making. The surge in demand for batteries, used to power everything from mobile phones to electric vehicles, has become a tailwind for Southeast Asia’s largest economy as it seeks a way out of a recession.

Top Battery Makers Discuss $20 Billion Indonesia EV Plans (1)

Read more at: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-14/top-battery-makers-in-talks-over-20-billion-indonesia-ev-plans

#Bloomberg: The Metal That Worries #Tesla Most Is Getting Much Cheaper

Nickel tumbled after a major Chinese producer’s unexpected plan to add supply eased concerns about a structural deficit for the material that Elon Musk has said is the biggest concern for Tesla Inc. batteries.

Nickel is critical to the world’s clean-energy transition.

Tsingshan Holding Group Co., the world’s top stainless steel producer, will soon start supplying nickel matte to Chinese battery material producers and plans to expand its nickel investments in Indonesia. Matte is an intermediate product made from concentrate that can be further processed into battery-grade chemicals.

Read more at: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-03-04/nickel-slumps-as-key-producer-s-supply-plans-ease-deficit-fears

#Forbes: It Might Take A Long Time For The U.S. To Become Self-Sufficient In Rare Earth Materials

Once again the U.S. is faced with the potential of restricted access to rare earth elements. The President ordered a supply chain review examining U.S. reliance on overseas sources for semiconductors, rare earth elements, batteries, and pharmaceuticals. China is the global leader in mining, refining, and component manufacturing of products that use rare earth elements, so in the face of escalating tensions between the two countries, many U.S. manufacturers might be vulnerable.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the U.S. led the world in research on rare earths, but by the 1980s funding for the chemistry, separation technology, and processing was reduced. Low-pricing from China made U.S. mining and processing uncompetitive, and the Mountain Pass mine was closed in the 1990s, only to be reopened in 2013 after China restricted supplies.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the U.S. led the world in research on rare earths, but by the 1980s funding for the chemistry, separation technology, and processing was reduced. Low-pricing from China made U.S. mining and processing uncompetitive, and the Mountain Pass mine was closed in the 1990s, only to be reopened in 2013 after China restricted supplies.

The biggest challenge, as always, is economics. In the past when the U.S. (and Japan) faced threats to the supply of rare earth minerals, there was a rush to develop alternatives. But once the threat passed and prices from China dropped, alternative sources lost their appeal. That is also the case now. The real question is whether domestic sources will be economically sustainable over time.

Could the U.S. become self-sufficient again?

Read more at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/willyshih/2021/02/24/it-might-take-a-long-time-for-the-us-to-become-self-sufficient-in-rare-earth-materials/?sh=57b3273f192d

#Canada could be top player in global EV battery market

Canada has a sizeable opportunity to become one of the world’s leaders in the lithium-ion battery market, but that potential needs to be recognized and nurtured by regulators and miners, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence director Simon Moores told the House of Commons on Monday.

Moores, who joined a parliamentary discussion on Canada’s role in building a domestic and global lithium-ion battery ecosystem, said the combination of natural resources and a highly-skilled workforce should make it easy for the country to create a sustainable value chain for battery materials.

Canada is rich in lithium, graphite, nickel, cobalt, aluminum and manganese, key ingredients for advanced battery manufacturing and storage technology.

Read more at: https://www.mining.com/canada-could-be-top-player-in-global-ev-battery-market-report/

#Forbes: Batteries Are Already Powering The Future: Here’s Why

One of the great myths of the energy transition is the battery problem. There’s widespread concern about their cost, as well as the question of what we are going to do with ones that have to be replaced, which are often reported as potentially dangerous to the environment.

In 2020 we managed to drop below the strategic $100/kWh threshold, down 13% from 2019, and that’s still counting on the technology of the future being lithium-ion, which doesn’t take into account the potential of other highly promising technologies.

A decade ago, many people believed that the problem with electric vehicles was the need to replace their batteries; but we now know from experience that batteries not only last much longer than we thought , but are set to far exceed the average life of the vehicles they power: there are now batteries that last up to sixteen years or two million kilometers.

The second part of the great battery myth pertains to recycling.

Batteries, whether for powering electric vehicles, heating our homes, or storing the energy produced at renewable power plants, are fundamental to understanding the future of energy.

The sooner we begin to demolish unfounded myths about batteries and understand the factors that determine their evolution in the future and the leadership required for its adoption, the better for everyone.

Read more at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/enriquedans/2021/02/20/batteries-are-already-powering-the-future-hereswhy/?sh=362e67983e63

#Northvolt to invest $200 mln in new #Polish battery plant

(Reuters) – Swedish lithium-ion battery maker Northvolt said on Friday it will invest $200 million in a new energy storage systems factory in Gdansk, Poland.

China currently hosts roughly 80% of the world’s lithium-ion cell production, but with demand expected to soar over the next decade Europe’s capacity is set to expand quickly.

“Securing battery cell manufacturing capacity in Europe is key for its industrial future, but what is equally critical is the industrial capacity for integrating cells into real-world solutions,” Northvolt CEO Peter Carlsson said in a statement.

“It is this that the new factory will deliver — sophisticated, sustainable energy storage systems to support the transformation of Europe’s electricity grid and its industry.”

Read more at: https://www.reuters.com/article/northvolt-poland/update-1-northvolt-to-invest-200-mln-in-new-polish-battery-plant-idUKL8N2KP35Y

Mining boom could herald commodity ‘supercycle’

It is known as a “supercycle” – and there have only been four in the past century. The term defines periods when commodity prices enjoy an extended boom, and this week’s multibillion-dollar windfalls for mining company investors suggest a fifth supercycle is on its way.

Read more at: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/feb/17/mining-boom-commodity-supercycle-copper-nickel-price-investments-clean-energy

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