European electric car makers have a Russian nickel problem – by ( – April 22, 2022)

Europe may need Russian nickel to meet its climate goals — and Indigenous activists may need Europe to hold a Russian mining giant to account.

About two weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine, a metal that plays a key role in batteries for electric vehicles, or EVs, was thrust suddenly into the spotlight. On March 8, the price of nickel doubled within hours on the London Metal Exchange, prompting the world’s leading metals market to shut down trading for the material.

The price spike occurred amidst fears that nickel from Russia, the world’s third-largest producer of the metal, would soon become “untouchable due to sanctions risk,” as one group of analysts put it.

More than a month later, the hypothetical sanctions that helped fuel metals market chaos have yet to materialize. And an emerging supply chain that connects Russian nickel with the European EV market — most notably through a partnership between mining giant Nornickel and German chemical company BASF — remains intact for now.

But the war in Ukraine, and Russia’s totalitarian crackdown on dissenting voices, have major implications for that supply chain as well as an Indigenous-led movement for environmental justice that targets Nornickel’s polluting practices.

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