Tesla is in talks with Canadian miner Giga Metals about helping to develop a large mine that would provide the electric automaker access to low carbon nickel for its batteries, three sources knowledgeable with the matter said.
Alongside its goal to decrease pollution from driving, Tesla is also striving to decrease its own carbon footprint.
“Tesla will give you a giant contract for a long period of time if you mine nickel efficiently and in an environmentally sensitive way,” said CEO Elon Musk in July.
Giga Metals’s low carbon nickel strategies include turning waste from its mining operations into cement type rock using carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and utilization of hydropower.
Giga Metals’s President Martin Vydra refused to comment on any talks with Tesla, but said: “Giga is actively engaged, and has been for some time, with automakers regarding our ability to produce carbon neutral nickel.
“The cost of developing our project, excluding bringing hydroelectric power to the site, will be less than $1 billion.”
Tesla has not made any comments related to this report yet.
Used to store energy in batteries, nickel is expected to see an increase in demand over the coming years as governments, companies, and customers seek to cut noxious fumes emitted by fossil-fuelled vehicles.
Forecasts from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence suggest nickel demand for batteries will increase to 1.4 million tonnes in 2030, or 30% of total nickel demand, from around 139,000 tonnes and 6% respectively this year, as sales of electric vehicles increase.
The problem for Tesla and other automakers is that majority of the world’s new nickel production will come from Indonesia, where the process would involve disposing of mining waste into the ocean, and that has been a significant concern for environmentalists.
Giga Metals’s Turnagain mine in British Columbia has measured and provided an indication of resources of 2.36 million tonnes of nickel and 141,000 tonnes of cobalt, its website noted.
Canada produced 180,000 tonnes of nickel in 2019.