LONDON/JOHANNESBURG — The world’s top platinum and palladium supplier has an answer to the electric-car boom that may pose a long-term threat to its biggest market: invent a new battery.
Anglo American Platinum wants to develop a lithium battery that uses platinum-group metals instead of cobalt and nickel. The aim is to create a new multi-billion dollar source of demand for the metals as electric vehicles reduce the need for traditional fuel autocatalysts.
Platinum miners have good reason to be worried. Electric-car sales are forecast to reach 56 million by 2040, making up about 57 percent of the overall car market versus 2 percent now, according to Bloomberg.
That could curb demand for autocatalysts, which use platinum and palladium to clean toxic emissions. Platinum is already under pressure — prices are near a decade-low as drivers turn away from diesel engines and supplies remain ample.
“Platinum could play a big role in batteries, but we need to thrift out the other metals to make it viable,” said Mike Jones, CEO of miner Platinum Group Metals, which is working with Amplats to develop the new battery.
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