Gold has long dominated the Western Australian city of Kalgoorlie, born in a late 19th Century prospecting rush and home to one of the world’s largest open pit mines, nestled right next to residential streets. Blasts to dislodge precious-metal laced rock from the more than two-mile-long Super Pit still frequently rattle the main street.
As about 2,700 executives, investment bankers, and industry stalwarts gathered in the precious metals hub last week for Australia’s key annual mining forum it was clear where the industry’s focus lies. All attention is on the frantic hunt for battery metals to deliver the world’s shift to electric vehicles.
The most in-demand mining leaders are no longer those who’ve unearthed vast troves of glittering gold, but instead, the companies delivering previously shunned projects to yield volumes of lithium, nickel, manganese, and cobalt.
A rush of recent supply deals led by Ford Motor to add contracts for battery metals from Australian mining companies is drawing new attention to a nation that already provides about three-quarters of Tesla Inc.’s lithium needs, and is aiming to deliver a rapid expansion in the production of a whole suite of raw materials.
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