As carmakers prepare for the shift to EVs, the relationship between miners and carmakers is getting serious. Carmakers are now looking for what Bloomberg calls “intermediary roles” in mining, and they’re partnering up with mining giants to make sure they can get battery metals, like lithium, cobalt and nickel.
That doesn’t mean that GM and Ford will start rolling into lithium mines with heavy equipment, but it does mean that the two sectors are getting closer than ever and that deserves some scrutiny.
The report gives a few examples of the agreements Tesla has made so far with mining companies, which makes sense given Tesla’s role as the tip of the EV spear, I guess. From Bloomberg:
Tesla last month struck a nickel deal with BHP Group after Elon Musk expressed concern about supply due to challenges sourcing the metal in a sustainable manner. The EV maker also agreed to a cobalt pact with Glencore in June and inked a deal in late March to get involved in a nickel-mining venture in New Caledonia.
That’s three large mining companies for Tesla alone, but it’s hardly the only carmaker striking deals with miners. The report also mentioned Stellantis, and Renault:
Stellantis has been in talks with two companies on securing lithium, which the Jeep maker rates as irreplaceable (unlike cobalt, for instance). Its French rival Renault already signed an offtake deal with Vulcan Energy Resources, which plans to get lithium out of geothermal brines deep below the ground in the Upper Rhine valley in southwestern Germany.
So, just to recap, these are the carmakers and miners Bloomberg cites:
- Tesla – BHP Group, Glencore Plc, Trafigura Group
- Stellantis – Vulcan Energy Resources, Controlled Thermal Resources
- Renault – Vulcan Energy Resources
The list not exhaustive, but it’s good enough to give us a running tally of some of the deals, which could become omore commonplace. Keeping track of these relationships is important because even if electric cars help solve some problems, sourcing the materials they need can pose problems, too.
One of the best reasons to know which carmakers have cozied up to which mining companies, I think, is to be aware of which car companies will make responsible mining a priority. Yes, “responsible mining” is kind of a misnomer.
Mining is by definition, destructive. But some brands are saying they’re committed to responsible mining practices. Like BMW and Volkswagen, for example. We’ll see how that goes.