Increasing demand for battery-powered vehicles could be the key to increased demand and prices for nickel, Vale’s director of North Atlantic mining operations told Thompson Chamber of Commerce members Oct. 3 while he was in town for Manitoba Operations’ annual open house.
But achieving price stability is a key to convincing the company’s board to invest in further developing Thompson’s mines to take advantage of that growing market, said Alistair Ross.
“We believe that society is on a path that they will not deflect from at least in the next 10 to 20 years and that is we’re not going to continue with internal combustion engines,” Ross said. “The answer to no more ICE – internal combustion engines – is battery electric.”
As battery technology has changed, nickel has become a more important component in their manufacturing. “People found that when you added nickel to lithium batteries, the capacity of them grew and the ability to charge and recharge grew too,” Ross said. “Everybody’s talking about lithium ion batteries as the future. These batteries here have eight parts nickel to one part of lithium. That is a lot of nickel.”
Ross said that part of the reason that Manitoba Operations had to switch from an integrated operation to one focused solely on mining in milling, in addition to stricter environmental regulations, was the outdated technology in the smelter and refinery that made production costs higher.