Huge demand for copper, cobalt, lithium and nickel in the offing as EV uptake increases – by Tracy Hancock ( – March 15, 2019)

Metals of the Future

Investors focused on the mining sector may not fully appreciate how quickly the electric vehicle (EV) is being adopted globally, in light of the world pursuing a low-carbon emissions future, says battery metals investment vehicle Cobalt 27 Capital chairperson and CEO Anthony Milewski, who warns of a potential deficit in the supply of the metals critical to achieving this future.

Global management consultancy firm McKinsey & Company says 2017 marked the first time EV sales passed the one- million mark, noting in May 2018 that, by 2020, EV producers could be moving 4.5- million units, about 5% of the overall global light-vehicle market.

Even with South Africa’s electricity supply woes, automotive company Jaguar Land Rover South Africa forecast in January that South Africa could have 145 000 EVs on its roads, expecting yearly sales of new EVs to reach 43 000 units in the next six years.

The company based its prediction on the uptake of EVs locally matching the global average, which it says will account for up to 11% of all new-car sales in 2025. “Actual EV car sales have far outpaced expectations and are going to have a tremendous impact on the demand for materials such as copper, cobalt, lithium and nickel,” says Milewski. Having recently spoken at the Investing in African Mining Indaba conference, which was held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, in South Africa’s Western Cape, from February 4 to 7, Milewski highlights that most conversations at the event were around these metals.

Also presenting at this year’s Mining Indaba was nickel-focused development vehicle Consolidated Nickel Mines (CNM) CEO Simon Purkiss, who provided an update on the restarting of the company’s Munali nickel mine, in southern Zambia.

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