Tesla is in talks with a Canadian mining company to develop a mine that would give the electric carmaker access to low carbon nickel for its lithium ion batteries, according to a report.
Elon Musk laid out a mission statement saying the company aims for environmental means of production in addition to the eco-friendly car his company makes.
The Financial Times recently reported that the carmaker was entering an agreement with commodity trader and miner Glencore to buy cobalt, but Tesla also needs nickel to help produce the batteries for its vehicles.
The carmaker currently has capacity to produce 490,000 electric vehicles in the United States and 200,000 in Shanghai, which will require an immense amount of battery materials, according to a report by Reuters.
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“Tesla will give you a giant contract for a long period of time if you mine nickel efficiently and in an environmentally sensitive way,” the Tesla CEO said in July.
Indonesia currently produces most of the world's new nickel – totaling 800,000 metric tons – and the process there reportedly involves disposing mining waste into the ocean.
Nickel is expected to see a surge in demand over the coming years, as agencies and companies seek to use it as a means of cutting noxious emissions by fossil-fuel vehicles.
As sales of electric vehicles improve over the next decade, forecasts suggest that nickel demand will rise from 139,000 tons to 1.4 million tons by 2030.
Musk’s call for eco-friendly production appears to have found its answer in the Canadian Giga Metals, whose low carbon nickel plans include turning waste from its mining operations into cement-type rock using carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Giga Metals' President Martin Vydra declined to comment on any talks with Tesla, but said that “Giga is actively engaged, and has been for some time, with automakers regarding our ability to produce carbon-neutral nickel.”
“Mining and processing the ore at Turnagain is likely to generate up to 28,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year,” a source told Reuters. “The tailings could absorb up to a similar tonnage of carbon, neutralizing emissions from the mine.”
“The cost of developing our project, excluding bringing hydroelectric power to the site, will be less than $1 billion,” the source added.
Giga Metals plans to produce 40,000 tons of nickel and 2,000 tons of cobalt a year for 20 years, which would be enough to power thousands of electric vehicles. Giga Metals' Turnagain mine has indicated resources of 2.36 million tons of nickel and 141,000 tons of cobalt, according to its website.
The Turnagain deposit, at around a billion years old, is relatively young and clean of impurities, which would mean high recoveries of nickel and cobalt.
Tesla did not respond to requests for comment, Reuters reported.