Tesla to source nickel from Australia’s BHP

Tesla has selected raw materials company BHP to supply nickel from Western Australia. And: Tesla has sold the ultracapacitor business of Maxwell Technologies, which it acquired in 2019, to UCAP Power.

First, on the cooperation with BHP: The company does not provide details on the purchase volume or the duration of the supply contract. However, both sides agree that in addition to the supply agreement, they want to work on ways to make the battery supply chain more sustainable – including a focus on end-to-end traceability of raw materials using blockchain. BHP and Tesla also want to cooperate on battery storage solutions to reduce their own CO2 emissions.

BHP already describes its Nickel West site in Western Australia as one of the most sustainable facilities in the world. “BHP produces some of the lowest carbon intensity nickel in the world, and we are on the pathway to net-zero at our operations,” expresses Edgar Basto, president of BHP Minerals Australia. The group estimates that demand for nickel in batteries will increase by more than 500 per cent over the next decade – driven in large part by rising global demand for electric vehicles.

It is not new for Tesla to negotiate directly with commodity companies. Earlier this year, for example, the electric carmaker also signed a contract to supply lithium hydroxide with China’s Sichuan Yahua Industrial Group. Only shortly before, the Philadelphia-based lithium producer Livent had extended its multi-year supply contract with Tesla until 2021, according to its own information. As for cobalt, Tesla is said to have entered into a deal with Glencore. The new nickel deal is similarly essential as Tesla moves to increase the nickel content in its cells.

Meanwhile, Tesla has sold the ultracapacitor business of energy storage specialist Maxwell Technologies, which it acquired in 2019, to UCAP Power. Tesla had been targeting Maxwell’s dry electrode technology and apparently has no plans to pursue ultracapacitors.



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