Lessons for SA: Mining multinational Glencore acquires stake in battery maker Britishvolt

Glencore, a multinational mining company with a large presence in South Africa, has purchased a stake in a UK battery maker, Britishvolt. This, reports Bloomberg, will allow the battery producer to secure long-term supplies of cobalt, a key material. As countries like the UK strive to ban petrol and diesel-powered cars in the near future, companies like Britishvolt have seen an opportunity to produce batteries for electric vehicles. The company is building it’s first “giant battery factory” in North England, with the CEO noting that “by partnering with Glencore, we are locking in supply and de-risking the project.” Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also pledged £1bn to help build battery building factories. With nearly 23,000 employees in South Africa, Glencore’s investment into the country is substantial. Would the mining giant have opted to invest here if government was open to backing the future of mobility i.e, the electrification of motor vehicles? Is there a possibility that a job-creating, battery-producing factory could have been built in SA? – Jarryd Neves

Glencore acquires stake in UK battery maker Britishvolt

By Amanda Jordan

(Bloomberg) – Mining giant Glencore acquired a stake in Britishvolt, allowing the UK battery maker to secure long-term supplies of key material cobalt.

Britishvolt is building the UK’s first giant battery factory in northern England. It will produce batteries for electric vehicles, with demand set to grow as the UK bans sales of new gasoline- and diesel-powered cars by the end of the decade.

“This is a huge step in the right direction for Britishvolt,” Chief Executive Officer Orral Nadjari said in a statement, without disclosing the size of Glencore’s stake or the financial terms. “By partnering with Glencore, we are locking in supply and derisking the project.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government is trying to avoid falling behind in a transcontinental competition to chip away at the dominance of Asian battery makers and Tesla Inc. Johnson has committed 1 billion pounds ($1.4 billion) to help build factories that can produce batteries at scale.

Britishvolt’s plant will be built in three phases, with a total capacity of 30 gigawatt-hours from the end of 2027. Its production capability will equate to enough cells for around 300,000 electric-vehicle battery packs a year.

Sales of EVs – both battery-electric and plug-in hybrid models – more than doubled in Europe last year to about 1.3 million units, topping China for the first time.

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