General Motors competes for stake in Vale’s base metals unit

Chevrolet Bolt EV charging at parking lot. Credit: Adobe Stock

General Motors Co. is competing for a stake in Brazilian mining giant Vale SA’s base metals unit, people familiar with the matter said, underscoring automakers’ desire for easy access to the materials needed for electric vehicle batteries.

Detroit-based General Motors has advanced to the next round of bidding for a minority stake in the business, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information. Vale could raise more than $2 billion from a deal, according to the people.

Bloomberg News reported in November that Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co. were also weighing making offers for a slice of the nickel and copper operations. Deliberations are ongoing and Vale has made no final decisions about a sale, the people said.

Representatives for General Motors and Vale declined to comment.

Vale is separating the base metal assets from its iron ore operations and wants to unveil a strategic partner for the new entity in the first half of 2023, management said last year. The Rio de Janeiro-based company is making the move as a shift away from fossil fuels spurs demand for materials that are key to the manufacture of EV batteries.

Automakers have been stepping up efforts to lock in supplies of nickel and copper, including through direct deals with producers of these metals. Vale is already a direct supplier of nickel for Tesla Inc. batteries. General Motors reached its own agreement with Vale last year to buy supplies of the metal.

In January, General Motors and Lithium Americas Corp. agreed a $650 million pact to develop the largest US lithium deposit, at the Thacker Pass mine in Nevada. The deal gives General Motors exclusive access to the first phase of production, which is expected to begin in 2026 and forecast to supply as many as 1 million EVs per year.

(By Dinesh Nair and Cristiane Lucchesi, with assistance from Mariana Durao and David Welch)


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