Rush for EV materials by automakers intensifies
With the rapid rise of electric vehicles, General Motors and Ford are working to secure the supply of critical minerals needed for electric vehicles.
The search for suppliers has intensified, following the sanctions imposed on Russia, following its invasion of Ukraine. Russia is a major source of metals used in batteries and cars.
General Motors signed an agreement with mining giant Glencore for a supply of cobalt from its Murrin Murrin operation in Australia. Cobalt is an important metal in the production of batteries for electric vehicles, and the cobalt processed in Australia will be used in GM’s Ultium battery cathodes, which will power electric vehicles such as the Chevrolet Silverado EV, GMC Hummer EV and the Cadillac Lyriq, officials said.
“GM and our suppliers are building an ecosystem of electric vehicles focused on sourcing critical raw materials in a safe and sustainable way,” said Jeff Morrison, vice president, global purchasing and supply chain at GM, which plans to build 1 million electric vehicles in the North. America at the end of 2025.
“It is important to note that, given the essential role of electric vehicles in reducing the carbon footprint of the transport sector, this agreement is in line with our approach to responsible sourcing and supply chain management” , he added.
The agreement builds on a shared commitment by both companies to build strong, sustainable and resilient supply chains through collective industry and multi-stakeholder platforms. Cobalt makes up only 0.001% of the earth’s crust. It is known for its heat resistant properties and is added to the cathodes of lithium-ion batteries to improve battery energy density and longevity.
GM announced a series of actions aimed at creating a new, safer supply chain for electric vehicles, including projects targeting key electric vehicle materials and components, including cathode active material, lithium, rare earths and permanent magnets.
Ford strikes deal for South American lithium
Meanwhile, Ford announced an agreement with a developer of clean lithiumLake Resources NL in Australia, for approximately 25,000 tonnes of lithium annually from a site under development in Chile.
“Ford is sourcing deeper in the battery supply chain,” said Lisa Drake, Ford vice president, EV Industrialization.
“This is one of many deals we are exploring to help us secure raw materials to support our aggressive acceleration of electric vehicles,” she said.
According to trade publication Metal.com, the Kachi project, located in northern Argentina near the Chilean border, is expected to cost $540 million and will be operational in 2024, using direct lithium mining technology, which can extract lithium from brine and uses a much smaller area than surface mines and evaporation ponds.
In addition to Ford, automakers such as GM, BMW and Stellantis have also signed supply agreements with companies planning to use DLE technology.
Lithium is a key raw material for making batteries for electric cars, automakers are scrambling to find stable sources. Last month, electric car leader Tesla struck a deal with Australian lithium miner Core Lithium.