GM Secures Itself Some Cobalt

gm secures itself some cobalt

Automotive manufacturers are currently on a quest to secure supply chains to avoid any future embarrassments relating to absent materials or missing components. If the last few years have taught the industry anything, it’s that it is always better not to get caught with your pants down. So we’re now seeing most of the major players trying to lock down raw materials necessary for battery production as they pitch upward in value in anticipation of numerous firms transitioning to all-electric vehicles.

Cobalt has been of particular interest to automakers and General Motors recently entered into a formal agreement to purchase the chemical element from the Anglo-Swiss commodities trader Glencore Plc.

On Tuesday, GM confirmed a multiyear contract to receive materials from Glencore’s Murrin Murrin mine in Australia and the cobalt will ultimately find its way inside the automaker’s Ultium batteries. This will help the company secure the necessary raw materials for EVs while also giving investors something to gnaw on.

In a bid to sweeten the pot, GM made sure to mention that both companies were part of the Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI) that exists to make huge industrial projects appear environmentally friendly and compliant with government regulations, including when the materials are sourced from controversial regions where human rights are an issue. This process includes assessments of sustainable regulations that are in place for processing materials and RMI’s promise that it will be a net-zero total emissions organization by 2050.

It’s also one of the largest global diversified natural resource companies on the planet, which is probably more relevant to General Motors’ needs.

“GM and our suppliers are building an EV ecosystem that is focused on sourcing critical raw materials in a secure sustainable manner,” stated Jeff Morrison, General Motors vice president, Global Purchasing and Supply Chain. “Importantly, given the critical role of EVs in reducing the carbon footprint of the transportation sector, this agreement is aligned with our approach to responsible sourcing and supply chain management.”

The company’s Ultium platform currently underpins the Cadillac Lyriq and Hummer EV and will be used for a whole host of electrified vehicles GM intends to launch next year. It also wants to have the capacity to build 1 million EVs for North America by the end of 2025, which will require reliable access to cobalt and other elements relevant to battery production.

That’s going to require a new factory, which the automaker said it would build in Bécancour, Quebec, in conjunction with South Korea’s POSCO Chemical. GM announced the planned facility earlier in the month, saying it would be essential for getting cathode active materials down to Michigan where it’s been setting up battery plants. However, none of that will be possible if it doesn’t have reliable access to raw materials.

“We are delighted to announce this collaboration and support General Motors in delivering its electric vehicle strategy,” said Ash Lazenby, Glencore U.S. Cobalt marketer and trader. “Future facing commodities like cobalt play a pivotal role in decarbonizing energy consumption and the electric vehicle revolution. Glencore is already a leading producer, recycler and supplier of these commodities, which underpin our own ambition of achieving net zero total emissions by 2050.”

[Image: General Motors]

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  • Jeff S Jeff S on Apr 12, 2022

    I guess the turn of the last century is too soon for many so in that case EVs are new especially when compared to the horse and buggy.

  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Apr 12, 2022

    I am confused. That car on the top photo is Geo Cobalt or it is a Pontiac?

    • Jeff S Jeff S on Apr 12, 2022

      It is a picture of a Chevy Cobalt whose only resemblance to this story is in name only.

  • ToolGuy @Matt, let me throw this at you:Let's say I drive a typical ICE vehicle 15,000 miles/year at a typical 18 mpg (observed). Let's say fuel is $4.50/gallon and electricity cost for my EV will be one-third of my gasoline cost - so replacing the ICE with an EV would save me $2,500 per year. Let's say I keep my vehicles 8 years. That's $20,000 in fuel savings over the life of the vehicle.If the vehicles have equal capabilities and are otherwise comparable, a rational typical consumer should be willing to pay up to a $20,000 premium for the EV over the ICE. (More if they drive more.)TL;DR: Why do they cost more? Because they are worth it (potentially).
  • Inside Looking Out Why EBFlex dominates this EV discussion? Just because he is a Ford expert?
  • Marky S. Very nice article and photos. I am a HUGE Edsel fan. I have always been fascinated with the "Charlie Brown of Cars." Allow me to make a minor correction to add here: the Pacer line was the second-from-bottom rung Edsel, not the entry-level trim. That would be the Edsel Ranger for 1958. It had the widest array of body styles. The Ranger 2-door sedan (with a "B-pillar", not a pillarless hardtop), was priced at $2,484. So, the Ranger and Pacer both used the smaller Ford body. The next two upscale Edsel's were based on the Mercury body, are were: Corsair, and, top-line Citation. Although the 1959 style is my fav. I would love a '58 Edsel Pacer 4-door hardtop sedan!
  • Lou_BC Stupid to kill the 6ft box in the crewcab. That's the most common Canyon/Colorado trim I see. That kills the utility of a small truck. The extended cab was a poor seller so that makes sense. GM should have kept the diesel. It's a decent engine that mates well with the 6 speed. Fuel economy is impressive.
  • Lou_BC High end EV's are selling well. Car companies are taking advantage of that fact. I see quite a few $100k pickups in my travels so why is that ok but $100k EV's are bad? The cynical side of me sees car companies tack on 8k premiums to EV's around the time we see governments up EV credits. Coincidence? No fooking way.