Electric vehicle makers step up drive to secure raw materials for batteries

An 'EV Charging Only' sign at a Power Up fast charger station for electric vehicles on April 14 in Pasadena, California. PHOTO: AFP

TORONTO (REUTERS) - A spike in demand for electric vehicles (EVs) worldwide is encouraging automakers such as Tesla, Volkswagen and Stellantis to secure raw materials needed for making batteries.

These are some of the deals major automakers have announced with suppliers and miners.

Tesla

March 1, 2022: Core Lithium will supply up to 110,000 dry metric tonnes of Spodumene concentrate, a chief source of lithium, over four years, starting in the second half of next year, from an Australian project.

Nov 1, 2021: China's Ganfeng Lithium will supply battery-grade lithium for three years starting 2022. Volumes were not disclosed. Ganfeng is the world's third-largest lithium supplier.

July 22, 2021: Australia's BHP Group will supply nickel from its plants in Western Australia. Quantities and timing were not disclosed.

Volkswagen

Dec 8, 2021: Vulcan Energy Resources will provide lithium hydroxide for five years starting in 2026. It extracts lithium from geothermal sources in Germany's Upper Rhine Valley region.

Dec 8, 2021: Belgian chemical firm Umicore will supply cathode materials for VW's European battery cell factories under a joint venture with the carmaker. It will start production in 2025 with 20 gigawatt hours for VW's plant in Salzgitter, Germany.

Stellantis

Nov 29, 2021: Preliminary deal with Vulcan Energy Resources for lithium produced using geothermal energy from Germany. Over five years starting in 2026, Vulcan will supply between 81,000 and 99,000 tonnes of battery-grade lithium hydroxide.

Renault

Nov 21, 2021: Vulcan Energy Resources will supply 26,000 to 32,000 tonnes of battery-grade lithium chemicals for an initial six-year period starting 2026.

Oct 8, 2021: Memorandum of understanding with Terrafame, a Finnish nickel and cobalt miner, to supply nickel sulphate. Quantities and timeline not disclosed.

Toyota Motor

Oct 4, 2021: BHP Group will supply nickel sulphate from Western Australia to a battery-making joint venture between Toyota Motor and Panasonic. Details were not disclosed.

General Motors

April 12, 2022: Miner Glencore will supply cobalt from its Murrin Murrin operations in Australia to be used in GM's Ultium battery cathodes, which powers the Chevrolet Silverado EV, GMC Hummer EV and Cadillac Lyriq vehicles. Details were not disclosed.

July 2, 2021: GM will make a "multimillion-dollar investment" in and help develop Controlled Thermal Resources' (CTR) Hell's Kitchen geothermal brine project near California's Salton Sea. The project could be producing 60,000 tonnes of lithium - enough to make roughly six million EVs - by mid-2024.

Ford

April 11, 2022: Ford will buy lithium from a Lake Resources facility in Argentina. It aims to purchase 25,000 tonnes annually of the white metal from Lake's Kachi project in northern Argentina.

Sept 22, 2021: Partners with start-up Redwood Materials to form a "closed loop" or circular supply chain for electric vehicle batteries, from raw materials to recycling.

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