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EV battery demand drives first US cobalt mine in decades

Demand about the battery accelerate the transformation of the world into tram is stimulating US cobalt production after a nearly 30-year hiatus.

Jervois Global Ltd. will begin the first US cobalt mining in Idaho on Friday, according to chief executive officer Bryce Crocker. Crocker said the mineral is “top of the table” in terms of national security. “There is not much new supply, especially in stable jurisdictions, which is why this mine in the US is so important,” said Crocker. According to data from the United States Geological Survey, Cobalt has not been produced in the US since 1994.

Cobalt is a key ingredient in EV batteries and is on the government’s list of important minerals. The US sees widespread adoption of electric vehicles as key to its fight against climate change. Both California and New York, among the most populous states, have passed legislation banning the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles in the coming decades. As automakers prepare to hit ambitious electrification goals, it causes shortages of the raw materials needed for batteries and sparks a global wave to secure supplies. there.

The urgency among manufacturers to secure supplies is “very different than it was two or three years ago,” Crocker said in an interview. “It is very high now in terms of concentration at the director level and at the board level,” he said.

In July, General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. increased efforts to lock in supplies by entering into direct agreements with battery metal manufacturers.

While more than two-thirds of the metal mined comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, an increasing number of producers are turning to cobalt from outside the African country due to allegations of corruption, human rights violations and use child labor there.

The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act also provides incentives for battery materials sourced in the United States. Electric vehicles could qualify for a $7,500 tax credit under President Joe Biden’s tax and climate bill, as long as their batteries contain minerals mined or processed in a country with an agreement trade freely with the United States, and supply parts of components that are manufactured or assembled in North America.

The Idaho mine is expected to produce 2,000 tonnes of cobalt mined per year, according to Crocker. The cobalt concentrate will then be exported and converted into refined products outside of the United States before being returned to customers, he added.

Jervois owns a nickel and cobalt refinery in Brazil and is talking to third parties in countries like Canada and Australia to convert the mined material. About 80% of global refining output is concentrated in China, but capacity is growing elsewhere, including the Finnish refinery giant Kokkola, owned by Jervois.

According to BloombergNEF, cobalt demand will increase from 127,500 tons in 2022 to 156,000 tons in 2030, as major automakers switch to iron-based batteries.

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