Back in July, Elon Musk urged nickel miners to ramp their operations, stating that companies will find a welcome, substantial business with Tesla. Musk even remarked that nickel miners could expect a “giant contract” provided that their nickel is mined and produced in an environmentally-sensitive way.
Needless to say, a number of companies appear to have answered Tesla’s call. From Canada alone, Giga Metals and Canada Nickel Co. have both expressed their intentions to supply nickel to the electric car maker. Even more recently, Brazilian miner Vale SA also remarked that it is discussing a potential partnership with the electric car maker. The update was related by the head of Vale’s base metals unit on Friday.
In a statement to Reuters, Vale executive director of base metals Mark Travers remarked that the mining firm is “absolutely” having discussions with Tesla. Interestingly enough, Vale’s operations currently span three provinces in Canada, with its Voisey’s Bay site’s underground operation poised to produce about 40,000 tonnes of nickel-in-concentrate yearly.
“So that is the nature of the discussions I’m sure that is occurring across the industry right now and, without specifically commenting on Tesla, those are the conversations we are having right now,” the Vale executive said.
Vale SA’s operations seem to be a pretty good fit for Tesla and Elon Musk’s requirements. The mining firm adopts a fairly strong environmental stance, dedicating about $2 billion to the development of low-carbon projects, including some that push the use of electrified underground vehicles. Travers noted that Vale is also studying potential to store carbon in tailings at its Thompson, Manitoba operations.
The executive added that discussions around environmentally-friendly nickel have become a key focal point in discussion with carmakers and EV makers like Tesla. “The discussions around environmentally-friendly nickel are front and center,” he said.
Tesla’s Battery Day event has shown that the company is planning a serious push into the production of its own custom-designed cells. To accomplish this, Tesla would have to secure a steady supply of raw materials that it could use for its battery production. Among these materials is nickel, which the company is poised to utilize for some of its most ambitious vehicles like the Tesla Semi and the Cybertruck.
The electric car maker seems to have made some headway into acquiring partners for its batteries’ other key components. Apart from the multiple nickel suppliers that have hinted at potential partnerships with Tesla, the company has also entered into a lithium supply deal with companies such as Australian mining firm Piedmont Lithium, which recently entered into a 5-year deal with the company.