GM Signs Landmark Agreement With Australian Company for Critical Minerals

GM Signs Landmark Agreement With Australian Company for Critical Minerals
A GMC Hummer EV truck is shown at General Motors Factory Zero in Detroit, Mich., on Aug. 5, 2021. (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

General Motors (GM) has signed a landmark agreement with an Australian company for the production and supply of critical minerals for electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

The agreement is critical to secure “all battery raw material to support GM’s goal of 1 million units of EV capacity in North America by the end of 2025,” GM said in an Oct. 11 statement.

“This 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,” said Jeff Morrison, GM vice president of global purchasing and supply chain.

The agreement is conditional on the commitment of $69 million, which will grant GM the right to purchase uncommitted nickel and cobalt sulphate produced by Queensland Pacific Metals (QPM) over 15 years from its proposed Townsville Energy Chemicals Hub in Northern Australia.

According to GM, the nickel and cobalt will help power a broad portfolio of trucks, SUVs, vans, and luxury vehicles from the carmaker, including the Chevrolet Silverado EV, GMC Hummer EV Pickup and SUV, Cadillac Lyriq, Chevrolet Blazer EV, and Chevrolet Equinox EV.

“The collaboration with Queensland Pacific Metals will provide GM with a secure, cost-competitive, and long-term supply of nickel and cobalt from a free-trade agreement partner to help support our fast-growing EV production needs,” Morrison said.

He said the agreement demonstrates GM’s “commitment to building strong supplier relationships and is aligned with our approach to responsible sourcing and supply chain management.”

QPM has obtained the right to use a process that recycles chemicals used in the extraction process, providing a more environmentally conscious method for extracting nickel, cobalt, and other precious metals, according to the GM statement. It also generates less waste than traditional extraction processes.

The Australian government will also support the deal, with QPM receiving a nonbinding letter of support from Export Finance Australia for up to $154 million in debt funding for the project.

‘Reliable Supply Chain’

The deal has been welcomed by Australian Minister for Trade and Tourism Don Farrell and Minister for Resources Madeleine King.
Farrell said in an Oct. 13 statement that the agreement was another example of Australia developing mutually beneficial critical minerals partnerships with major trading partners.

“Australian and U.S. businesses understand the need to ensure reliable supply chains as the world transitions to net-zero emissions,” he said. “We are very supportive of commercial efforts to attract international capital and offtake contracts to develop Australia’s critical minerals sector and value-added capacity.”

Critical minerals are essential inputs for many so-called renewable technology products, including those being backed by governments such as Australia and the United States as they drive their countries’ economies to adopt carbon-neutrality targets.

Renewable Energy Superpower

King said the agreement was an example of Australia using its innovation, technological know-how, and resource expertise to become a global renewable energy superpower.

“There are huge opportunities for job creation and economic growth in Australia’s growing critical minerals capability,” she said.

Director of Climate Energy Finance (CEF) Tim Buckley told The Epoch Times in April that he believes Australia has the potential to become a world leader in the “green” revolution.

Buckley said he believes that given Australia’s resource wealth in lithium, rare earths, copper, cobalt, nickel, wind, solar, and hydro, the country has everything needed to benefit from the U.N.-led push for decarbonization, which Buckley says will see massive investment, employment, and export opportunities in new industries.

Victoria Kelly-Clark is an Australian based reporter who focuses on national politics and the geopolitical environment in the Asia-pacific region, the Middle East and Central Asia.
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