The EV Battery Supply Chain & Pricing — Nickel, Cobalt, & Lithium Trends (Part 2)
In the second half of this CleanTech Talk podcast interview, CleanTechnica CEO Zach Shahan continues his talk with Caspar Rawles, Head of Price Assessments at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, to delve into the battery supply chain. You can listen to the full conversation in the embedded player below. Below that embedded SoundCloud player is a brief summarization of the topics covered, but tune into the podcast to follow the full discussion. [Editor’s note: I have no idea what happened to my mic/audio on this podcast. It was the same setup as I used for the green hydrogen podcast. But I will try to identify and avoid the issue in future podcasts. —Zach]
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Zach and Caspar transition from talking about lithium to focusing on nickel in the second half of this episode. Nickel is in a slightly different situation than lithium, Caspar explains, and therefore the market is currently oversupplied with nickel. Unlike other battery minerals, he says, the market for nickel is much bigger, with very little of the demand coming from batteries. But Caspar predicts that the main demand growth for nickel will come from the battery market over the next five year.
Caspar talks about the global landscape of nickel mining and where supply might come from over the next few years, especially from Southeast Asia. With most of the battery supply chain, he notes, the resource in question is typically either controlled or processed by China, as is seen with cobalt, lithium, and, up until recently, nickel. Caspar sees a need over the next decade in non-Chinese investment in new supplies of these minerals, and more mining companies that can meet rising demands in the late 2020s while ensuring their operations are environmentally sound. The battery supply chain, he says, is engaging more within the nickel industry and Caspar sees nickel moving up on the priority list of battery manufacturers.
Wrapping up the second half of this podcast, Zach and Caspar touch briefly on cobalt. Unpacking the “ethics of cobalt,” Caspar believes that there is a misbelief in mainstream media around this issue that all cobalt production contributes to human rights abuses. He notes that actually the vast majority of cobalt comes from industrial operations, but admits there is still a problem in these cases where cobalt is mined using child labor, for example. Over the past few years, however, Caspar has seen cobalt production becoming more ethical, and industry has worked with artisanal miners in the DRC to ensure change is happening. Although there are still some questions around the ethics of cobalt, Caspar believes the rise of organizations working to ensure ethical cobalt can pave a new pathway for cobalt use.
To hear more on these topics, listen to the show!
Also see the first half of this interview if you missed it: “The EV Battery Supply Chain & Pricing — Lithium, Nickel, & Cobalt Trends (Part 1).”