General Motors Co said on Tuesday it will invest up to $69 million and take an equity stake in Queensland Pacific Metals to secure a new source of nickel and cobalt for battery cells for use in the US automaker’s vehicles.
GM said the investment will help support electric-vehicle eligibility for consumer incentives under new, clean energy US tax credits. GM said the nickel laterite ore is expected to be processed using a new, proprietary process that helps reduce waste.
Under a law passed in August, automakers must source battery minerals from countries with free trade agreements in order to qualify for the US consumer EV tax credits.
The GM investment is to assist in the development of its proposed Townsville Energy Chemicals Hub (TECH) project in Northern Australia. High-grade nickel laterite ore will be imported from nearby New Caledonia, GM said.
GM already has binding agreements securing all battery raw material supporting its goal of 1 million units of annual capacity in North America by the end of 2025.
GM said the “new collaboration builds on those commitments as we look to secure supply through the end of the decade, while also helping continue to expand the EV market.”
Queensland Pacific Metals CEO Stephen Grocott said “GM’s investment in our company and the associated offtake brings us one step closer towards construction of the TECH project.”
In August, GM said it was prepaying Livent Corp $198 million for a guaranteed six-year supply of lithium, a deal that reflects the auto industry’s rising worry about a tightening market for the electric vehicle battery metal.
Prepaying cash for a guaranteed metal supply is unusual in the mining industry. Livent produces lithium in Argentina and has processing facilities in the United States.
(By David Shepardson; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and David Gregorio)