General Motors (GM) says it will use Australian-mined cobalt in the cathodes of its Ultium batteries, which will power flagship EVs such as the Chevrolet Silverado EV, reborn GMC Hummer, and Cadillac Lyriq.
GM and Swiss-based commodity form Glencore have inked a “multi-year” deal which will see the former buy cobalt from the latter’s Murrin Murrin operation in the Western Australian Goldfields region.
Cobalt, a metal that makes up around 0.001 per cent of the earth’s crust, has very heat-resistant properties and is added to lithium-ion battery cathodes to improve energy density and battery life.
By the end of 2025, GM plans to have capacity to build a million electric vehicles in North America annually.
“GM and our suppliers are building an EV ecosystem that is focused on sourcing critical raw materials in a secure sustainable manner,” said GM vice president of Global Purchasing and Supply Chain Jeff Morrison.
“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.”
Murrin Murrin is also a cobalt supplier to BMW. On this topic, Tesla last year signed a supply agreement with mining giant BHP to source nickel for its batteries from Western Australia.
The Australia Institute public policy think tank released a report in February this year called ‘Rebuilding Vehicle Manufacturing in Australia: Industrial Opportunities in an Electrified Future.’
“When it comes to creating an EV manufacturing sector, Australia enjoys advantages other nations would die for: rich reserves of lithium and rare earths, strong industrial infrastructure, a highly skilled workforce, powerful training capacity, abundant renewable energy options, and untapped consumer potential,” said the report’s lead author Dr Mark Dean.
“And contrary to popular belief, we wouldn’t be starting from scratch. Thanks to the resilience of our remaining automotive manufacturing supply chain, a surprising amount of auto manufacturing work – including components, specialty vehicles, and engineering – still exists here.”