Western groups compete for assets to secure supplies of key battery metal
In remote northern Ontario, hundreds of kilometres from the nearest railway or paved road, the world’s largest mining group and an Australian metals tycoon are in a bidding war for a deposit containing millions of tonnes of nickel.
The battle between BHP and Andrew Forrest’s Wyloo Metals for the asset’s owner Noront Resources comes as miners race to meet surging demand for battery metals as electric vehicles go mainstream.
Demand for nickel, which is used in more powerful electric-car batteries and will be key to bigger vehicles such as electric trucks, is set to grow 19-fold by 2040 if the world meets the Paris climate goals, according to the International Energy Agency.
Yet most of the increase in supply this decade is set to come from Indonesia, a market overwhelmingly powered by coal-fired electricity where Chinese companies are building nickel processing projects.
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