Tesla in rumored talks with Giga Metals
Pondering carbon-neutral nickel from BC mining company Metal Tech News – September 11, 2020
Last updated 9/11/2020 at 12:46pm
Tesla wants low-carbon nickel from a future mine at Giga Metals' Turnagain nickel-cobalt deposit in northern British Columbia, Canada, according to Reuters.
Citing three unnamed sources, the global news agency said Tesla is in discussion with the Canadian miner to advance development of a mine that would produce nickel and cobalt, both vital ingredients in the lithium-ion batteries that power its electric vehicles.
These reports have not been confirmed by either company. After seeing the price of their stock more than double as investors caught wind of the rumored talks, however, Giga Metals executives indicated that the finalization of any such deal with the automaker is not immediately pending.
"What I can say is that there is no material announcement forthcoming and we will keep regulators and investors informed of any material changes that require disclosure in accordance with securities regulations," said Giga Metals President Marin Vydra.
In the pre-permitting stage, the company's Turnagain project is several years away from delivering nickel and cobalt to market. A future mine there, however, could help fill the growing need for these highly coveted battery metals.
According to the most recent calculation this deposit hosts 5.2 billion pounds of nickel and 312.4 million lb of cobalt in 1.07 billion metric tons of measured and indicated resources averaging 0.22% nickel and 0.013% cobalt; plus another 5.5 billion lb of nickel and 327.3 million lb of cobalt in 1.14 billion metric tons of inferred resource averaging 0.22% nickel and 0.013% cobalt.
Only taking into account the nickel and cobalt within the higher confidence measured and indicated categories, this is a potentially enormous source of two of the key metals being sought by Tesla and other electric carmakers.
In July, Tesla CEO Elon Musk put out a bulletin that his company is on the hunt for nickel to supply the automaker's expanding global network of battery gigafactories.
"Tesla will give you a giant contract for a long period of time if you mine nickel efficiently and in an environmentally sensitive way," he said. "So, hopefully, this message goes out to all mining companies – please get nickel."
More information on Tesla's need for minerals can be read at Is Elon Musk considering Tesla gigamines? in the July 29 edition of Metal Tech News.
The carbon neutral nickel mine being proposed by Giga Metals fits Musk's environmental criteria.
Studies led by University of British Columbia Gregg Dipple have demonstrated that the tailings left behind from mining ultramafic deposits such as the one that hosts the nickel and cobalt at Turnagain absorb CO2.
"More than a decade of research by project lead Dr. Greg Dipple has shown that silicate mineral residue, when exposed to the atmosphere, absorbs CO2 and converts it to carbonate minerals, and the CO2 would remain locked in the carbonates over geological time scales," Giga Metals CEO Mark Jarvis said in mid-2019.
This carbon sequestration, coupled with the company's plan to use hydropower generated in BC, is expected to more than offset any CO2 generated by the mine.
"Our goal is to be the world's first carbon-neutral mine." said Vydra. "We plan to use power from B.C. Hydro's clean energy grid, which will involve more capital expenditure than the alternatives, but is the right thing to do. This exciting research now underway could help with our goal by providing a way to measure carbon uptake in our residue."
In addition to drawing CO2 out of the atmosphere and locking it away in stone for eons, this process cements together the fine-grained tailings as they convert to carbonate minerals. This cementation is expected to strengthen the tailings impoundment facilities, providing stability that further meets Musk's call for mining nickel in an environmentally sensitive way.
While Giga Metals can not confirm or deny the Reuters report, the company's BC project is uniquely suited to meet Tesla's nickel and cobalt needs.
"It is evident that interest in sustainable and carbon-neutral nickel production is driving renewed interests in deposits such as Turnagain as the world will need significant nickel to meet future EV demand. Turnagain is one of a handful of deposits that could meet this future demand," said Vydra.
More information on the Turnagain project can be read at A potential CO2 absorbing nickel mine in the Aug. 5 edition of Metal Tech News.