US opens new cobalt mine as EV battery needs grow – by Claire Bushey and Aime Williams (Financial Times – October 7, 2022)

Recently passed climate law boosts incentives for electric cars with domestic materials

The first new US cobalt mine to open in decades is ramping up production in Idaho, buoyed by the carmakers’ increasing demand for battery raw materials and legislation designed to foster a battery supply chain.

The mine is located in the state’s Salmon River Mountains at 8,000ft above sea level. Owned by Australia’s Jervois Global, chief executive Bryce Crocker said it will reach full production in February, extracting 2,000 tonnes of the bluish ore a year. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was scheduled for Friday.

A critical component of the lithium-ion batteries that power electric cars and trucks, demand for cobalt from carmakers is threatening to outstrip supply as the automotive industry electrifies. The price of cobalt doubled last year to $32 a pound before falling to its current price at $27.75.

The Inflation Reduction Act climate and tax law passed in August includes provisions geared toward developing a US supply chain for batteries, potentially benefiting domestic suppliers of key minerals such as cobalt. “The United States needs to secure access to critical minerals,” Crocker said. “There’s not enough materials to go around.”

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