Toyota, Panasonic cut deal for BHP nickel
Create a green EV ecosystem based on Toyota's Kaizen concept Metal Tech News – October 6, 2021
Last updated 10/19/2021 at 3:04pm
Toyota Motor Corp. and Panasonic Corp. are the latest electric vehicle and lithium-ion battery manufacturers to sign an agreement to acquire nickel sulfate from the new production plant at BHP's Nickel West operation in Western Australia.
Just last week, BHP announced that it has produced the first nickel sulfate crystals at a new plant slated to yield 100,000 metric tons of the 99.99% pure nickel sulfate needed for lithium-ion batteries each year.
Further details on this nickel sulfate milestone can be read at BHP produces first nickel sulfate in WA published at Metal Tech News on October 1, 2020.
Seeking to create a "green electric vehicle ecosystem" that will enhance sustainability, recyclability, and traceability of lithium-ion batteries and the materials that go into them," Prime Planet Energy & Solutions, a joint venture between Toyota and Panasonic, and Toyota Tsusho Corp. signed a memorandum of understanding for the supply of nickel sulfate from Nickel West.
"Creating a green EV ecosystem is something that could make a real difference for the battery supply chain," said BHP Chief Commercial Officer Vandita Pant. "Together with PPES and TTC, we are taking the next step in creating a more sustainable, transparent industry and one that is working collectively to lift standards and reduce emissions. It starts with the raw material and we are delighted to supply PPES with nickel sulphate in this partnership where we will work together, with TTC, to create long-term success and sustainability."
Created from nickel sulfide ore that is more readily upgraded to battery-grade nickel sulfate and the utilization of solar power in the refining process makes the nickel sulfate coming out of Nickel West a low-carbon choice for EV and battery manufacturers.
"We have invested in our Nickel West facilities and power agreements so that we can now deliver some of the world's most sustainable and lowest carbon emission nickel to customers," said BHP Nickel West Asset President Jessica Farrell. "We are excited to work with our partners to potentially increase the use of electric vehicles at our operations and further advance our sustainability agenda."
This low-carbon intensity was likely a factor in Tesla Inc.'s decision to cut a deal earlier this year to acquire an undisclosed amount of the critical battery material from BHP's Nickel West operation.
More information on the agreement can be read at Tesla, BHP strike revolutionary nickel deal in the July 22, 2021 edition of Metal Tech News.
The supply of nickel sulfate from Nickel West is expected to enable Prime Planet Energy & Solutions to develop lower carbon batteries that will be supplied to EV manufacturers, including Toyota.
"I am delighted that we share the same values and have taken initiatives as 'one team' towards realizing a carbon-free green society," said Prime Planet Energy & Solutions President and CEO Hiroaki Koda. "We will work towards optimizing the overlapping value chains to be more competitive and to continuously improve efficiency in our related operations. To make this happen, we would like to introduce the Kaizen concept moving forward, and together with reducing the carbon footprint in operations such as through electric mining vehicles."
One of the core principles of the Toyota production system, Kaizen is a philosophy that helps to ensure maximum quality, the elimination of waste, and improvements in efficiency, both in terms of equipment and work procedures.
Toward this higher standard, the Toyota-Panasonic-BHP partnership intends to identify ways to implement standards for end-to-end raw materials traceability, ethical sourcing, and human rights reporting.
The parties will also explore the possibility of recycling battery scrap and used batteries at BHP's Nickel West for further processing and production of nickel-bearing products.
The Kaizen concept could even extend to Toyota EVs and electric mining equipment with Nickel West nickel sulfate in their batteries working at BHP operations.
Earlier this year, BHP and Toyota Australia announced a partnership to convert the Land Cruiser 70, a rugged and retro Toyota workhorse in Australia, to an electric truck that will retain the toughness for which this vehicle is renowned but without the exhaust that comes with the typical 4.5-liter diesel V8 engine.
"Our partnership is quite unique and advanced, as we could achieve both competitiveness and green business while securing a win-win relationship," said Koda.
Further details on this collaboration can be read at Toyota Land Cruiser 70 gets EV upgrade in the January 13, 2021 edition of Metal Tech News.