The New EV Gold-Rush: Automakers Scramble to Get Into Mining – by Mike Colias and Scott Patterson (Wall Street Journal – May 15, 2023)

A scarcity of EV battery materials pushes car companies and miners to work closer together; for both, there is a learning curve

When General Motors began outlining plans in 2020 to fully switch to electric vehicles, it didn’t account for one critical factor: Many of the battery minerals needed to fulfill its plans were still in the ground.

“I remember seeing a report from our raw-materials team at the time saying, ‘There is plenty of lithium out there. There is plenty of nickel’,” said Sham Kunjur, an industrial engineer now in charge of securing the raw materials for GM’s batteries. “We will buy them from the open market.”

GM executives soon came to discover how off the mark those projections were, and now Mr. Kunjur’s 40-person team is scouring the globe for these minerals. The auto industry’s shift to EVs has triggered a scramble to lock in supplies of lithium, nickel, graphite and other materials core to battery making, much of which are currently mined and processed outside the U.S. in places such as China and Australia.

The specter of an eventual EV battery shortage is pushing car companies to get more directly involved in the mining business, one that is largely foreign to them and introduces new risks. The effort reflects a belated realization by auto executives that the mining sector—despite the promise of huge demand—hasn’t mobilized to unearth enough of these battery minerals.

For the rest of this article: