Elon Musk discusses potential Tesla investment with Mongolia’s PM

Image used with permission for Teslarati. (Credit: Tom Cross)

Elon Musk discussed potential Tesla investments in Magnolia with Prime Minister Luvsannamsrain Oyun-Erdene. On Tuesday, the pair discussed a possible joint research venture about rare earth elements and battery minerals through a virtual meeting. 

Global think tank ODI held a roundtable earlier this year that discussed Magnolia’s New Recovery Policy and where the country currently stands in the economic supply chain. According to ODI research Mongolia’s economic growth over the last decade grew remarkably at an average of 8%. The Asian country’s growth was mainly driven by mining revenue. 

Mongolia possesses large deposits of coal, copper, gold, silver, and other metallic ores. In recent years, foreign investors have mostly been interested in the country’s gold and copper mine of Oyu Tolgoi. However, Tesla may be more interested in another mineral Mongolia has in its mines: lithium. 

In 2020, reports of large lithium deposits in Mongolia started to spread, making the country a frontier of Li exploration and extraction. For instance, Li Ion Energy, which claims to be Mongolia’s first Li brine explorer and developer, has a Baavhai Uul lithium brine project that spans 80,000+ hectares that yield average grade of 426ppm lithium and max grade 811ppm Li. In February 2023, China Mining Resources Group Co., LTD purchased Ltd URT lithium mine project in Mongolia for $20 million

Mongolia’s New Recovery Policy hopes to boost investment opportunities in the country. In short, the government is open for business from foreign investors like Tesla. 

“We have a number of diversification plans in place to boost investment opportunities in Mongolia stemming from our landmark “New Recovery Policy,” which will create an investment-friendly climate. Our overarching message to foreign investors is clear: Mongolia is open for business,” said the Mongolian Prime Minister in an interview

Tesla & Lithium 

Tesla needs lithium to produce batteries for its electric vehicles. The company has secured lithium ore agreements with several companies over the years. At the Q1 2023 earnings call, Karn Budhiraj—Tesla’s Vice President of Supply Chain—hinted that the EV manufacturer isn’t exactly lacking in lithium supply. Tesla plans to continue procuring the battery mineral. 

“The other thing that’s happening is because of the price spike, a lot of the companies that are in this business are becoming more ambitious about finding more upstream resources and exploring locations in Africa as well as South America. So that’s also helping the macro situation with pricing,” Budhiraj said about lithium and its pricing.

However, Tesla’s main concern with lithium lies in the refining process, not the supply. Musk has emphasized that the main choke point of lithium is refining capacity. To address the issue, Tesla invested in a Texas-based lithium refinery

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Elon Musk discusses potential Tesla investment with Mongolia’s PM
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