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By Shane Lasley
Metal Tech News 

GM secures Aussie cobalt for batteries

Enters deals to source critical battery metal from Glencore Metal Tech News - April 13, 2022


Last updated 4/12/2022 at 2:53pm

General Motors GM EV electric vehicles Ultium batteries battery Glencore cobalt

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Cobalt, a metal that makes up only around 0.001% of the elements in the Earth's crust, is added to lithium-ion battery cathodes to improve energy density and longevity.

In another deal to secure the raw materials it needs to produce enough Ultium batteries to power up to 1 million electric vehicles per year by 2025, General Motors struck a multi-year agreement to purchase cobalt from Glencore's Murrin Murrin operation in Western Australia.

A rare and critical metal, cobalt plays an important role in improving the energy density and longevity of the lithium-ion batteries powering EVs.

"Future facing commodities like cobalt play a pivotal role in decarbonizing energy consumption and the electric vehicle revolution," said Ash Lazenby, U.S. cobalt marketer and trader at Glencore. "Glencore is already a leading producer, recycler and supplier of these commodities, which underpin our own ambition of achieving net zero total emissions by 2050."

The use of this battery metal, however, has been controversial due to unsafe working conditions at artisanal mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which supplied 70% of the world's cobalt last year. In these mines, men, women, and children hand-dig down into some of the richest sources of cobalt on Earth. It is estimated that artisanal mines are the source of 10 to 20% of the cobalt coming out of DRC.

GM's deal with Glencore avoids this controversy by sourcing cobalt from an Australian operation that aligns with international guidelines for responsible mineral supplies.

Both Glencore and GM are also members of the Responsible Minerals Initiative, a group of 400 companies and organizations dedicated to ensuring mineral supply chains contribute positively to social-economic development globally.

"GM and our suppliers are building an EV ecosystem that is focused on sourcing critical raw materials in a secure sustainable manner," said Jeff Morrison, vice president of global purchasing and supply chain at GM. "Importantly, given the critical role of EVs in reducing the carbon footprint of the transportation sector, this agreement is aligned with our approach to responsible sourcing and supply chain management."

The cobalt deal with Glencore adds to the long list of critical raw materials that GM is securing to build its growing line of EVs, such as the Chevrolet Silverado EV, GMC Hummer, and new Cadillac Lyriq.

Some of the other deals GM has made on this front include:

lithium-ion Responsible Minerals Initiative Murrin Murrin Western Australia

General Motors

General Motors is securing the minerals and metals needed for the lithium batteries, electric motors, and integrated power electronics that make up its Ultium platform, which is the foundation of the company's EV strategy.

A joint venture with POSCO Chemical to produce cathode active material at a new $400 million plant being built in Quebec, Canada.

A strategic partnership with Controlled Thermal Resources to secure lithium produced at the Hell's Kitchen geothermal brine project in California.

A partnership with GE Renewable Energy to develop a value chain for the powerful rare earth magnets that go into Ultium motors.

An agreement to buy rare earth materials and magnets to be produced at a facility MP Materials Corp. is building in Fort Worth, Texas.

A partnership with Germany-based VAC to build a plant in the U.S. that will produce permanent magnets for GM's Ultium platform.

Author Bio

Shane Lasley, Metal Tech News

With more than 14 years of covering mining, Shane is renowned for his insights and and in-depth analysis of mining, mineral exploration and technology metals.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 907-726-1095


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