(Bloomberg) — The former university professor leading one of the firms most crucial to the future of transport has a warning for anyone eyeing his patch.
“I want to tell everyone who wants to enter this market: don’t do it, you are wasting your money,” said Xu Kaihua, chairman of Chinese battery metals maker GEM Co. “Only the top five will survive.”
The firm Xu founded in Shenzhen in 2001 has adopted an expansive business model that’s made it central to supply chains stretching from the cobalt and nickel mines of Africa and Southeast Asia to the motors of Volkswagen and BMW cars. GEM’s diverse footprint includes a plant in Indonesia that will allow it to avoid that nation’s export ban on nickel, a key raw material. And, the company is already the world’s biggest recycler of metals from used batteries.
The strategy has established GEM in a small band of Chinese firms including Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Co. and Jinchuan Group Co. whose relatively low profile belies their collective significance to the future of energy use.
GEM makes the kind of high-purity chemicals derived from nickel, cobalt and lithium that will be required in massive quantities over the next decade as the world’s automakers electrify their fleets.
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