Tesla held talks over buying stake in Glencore – report

Elon Musk at the Tesla Factory in Fremont, California. (Image courtesy of Maurizio Peace | Flickr Commons.)

Electric vehicles giant Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) considered taking a stake in Glencore (LON: GLEN) and held talks with the miner and commodities trader, the Financial Times reported.

Citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter, FT said Tesla discussed buying 10% to 20% of Glencore last year and continued negotiations in March this year, when the Swiss firm’s chief executive Gary Nagle visited the carmaker’s factory in Fremont, California.

Talks concluded without an agreement due to Tesla’s concerns about Glencore’s coal mining business and its impact on the environment, the two sources told FT.

Tesla has spent the past year signing pacts with several producers of battery metals in an effort to secure future supply of key ingredients for its electric batteries, such as lithium, cobalt and nickel.

The two companies already have a deal in place, which guarantees Tesla cobalt supply for its plants in China and Germany.

Glencore is the world’s top producer of cobalt through its mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Australia and Canada.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk promised in 2020 “giant contracts” to companies able to produce nickel in an “environmentally sensitive way” amid concerns of an imminent deficit.

Since Musk’s pledge to miners, his company has inked nickel supply deals with the world’s largest miner, BHP, (ASX: BHP) in Australia and Vale (NYSE: VALE), the world’s second largest nickel miner. It has also reached agreements with Prony Resources in New Caledonia and with Talon Metals (TSX: TLO) for its Tamarack nickel project in Minnesota.

Nickel helps cram more energy into cheaper and smaller battery packs, allowing EVs to charge faster and travel farther between plug-ins.

Lithium worries

Musk tweeted in April about his concerns over lithium costs. “Tesla might actually have to get into the mining and refining directly at scale, unless costs improve,” he said.

The new owner of Twitter followed up by saying that Tesla was open to buying a mining company if producing its own supply of electric vehicle (EV) metals would speed up worldwide adoption of clean energy technologies.

Since then, the company has been advancing plans to build its own lithium hydroxide refinery in Texas, as Musk considers refining ore a “licence to print money”

Tesla did not reply to MINING.COM’s request for comment. Glencore declined referring to the topic.