Weekly Nugget

BMW Inks $335-Million Lithium Deal

Automaker BMW has officially signed a Eur285 million ($334.4 million) deal with US-based Livent for the supply of lithium directly to BMW's battery cell manufacturers beginning in 2022.


BMW already has a €540 million ($636m) lithium supply deal with China’s Ganfeng Lithium, signed in December 2019 from Australian hard-rock deposits.

The Livent deal sources lithium from Argentina's salt lakes, saying it is sustainable, because its uses a method that emphasizes sustainable water use and minimizes the local impact on ecosystems and communities.

BMW is working to build a sustainable supply chain to ensure transparency over the origin and mining methods of the minerals it sources from producers for its battery cell suppliers.

BMW is the first automaker to join the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) in early 2020, which has developed guidelines for responsible extraction of raw materials and defined strict requirements for meeting its environmental and social standards.

Livent is a pending member of IRMA and would be the first miner in Argentina to commit to undergo a third-party audit in IRMA.

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High-Seas Battle Over Ocean's Riches 

DeepGreen Metals, a seafloor mining company with plans to go public, is responding to BMW, Volvo, Google and Samsung for committing to not buying minerals extracted from the seafloor until the environmental risks of the activity are “comprehensively understood.”

The companies are committing to not sourcing any minerals from the seabed, excluding such minerals from their supply chains, and not financing deep seabed mining activities, according to a statement from the WWF

The move from fossil fuels to electrify the world with renewable technology is creating an increasing demand for the minerals that go into batteries, some of which are found on the seabed.

The idea is to collect billions of potato-sized rocks called nodules from the deep sea plains of the ocean's floors. Rich in valuable minerals such as copper, nickel and cobalt, these nodules could provide a new supply without the massive impacts of terrestrial mining operations.

DeepGreen, which is planning to mine nodules released a statement saying the car companies were being 'irresponsible' in their claims saying...

"Where exactly will BMW get the battery metals it needs to fully electrify its products, and with what impact to our climate?" 

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DRC Hopes to Build the Aramco of Cobalt

The Democratic Republic of Congo is the world's main source of the critical battery metal, cobalt. However, the supply chain for the metal is still largely mined in unregulated and dangerous conditions. 

The African nation has created Entreprise Générale du Cobalt (EGC) a state-owned company that has a monopoly on the right to purchase and sell the country's artisanal cobalt.

EGC, created a year ago will help control artisanal supplies and boost government revenue through price controls, and will sell cobalt hydroxide under a five-year contract with trading house Trafigura.

The ECG hopes to improve working conditions for artisanal minerals and assert control over nearly 15% of the world’s cobalt production.

Jean-Dominique Takis Kumbo, the head of ECG, says he’s hoping that’s a market share big enough to help influence cobalt prices the way Saudia Arabia's Aramco does with oil, and ultimately boost revenues for the state. 

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NASA: Moon Rich in Minerals, Not Cheese

A team of researchers concluded that the lunar subsurface contains higher concentration of metals, such as iron and titanium, than previously estimated using data from instruments onboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).

The researchers found a pattern in which larger and deeper craters have higher metal concentrations than smaller and shallower ones, in craters approximately 1 to 3 miles wide.

NASA did not report the discovery of any cheese on the lunar surface.

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