Tesla targets $1bn investment in Australian EV minerals

Tesla chair Robyn Denholm has declared the company plans to spend more than $1 billion on Australia’s minerals supply to cater for growing electric vehicle (EV) demand.

Denholm, who spoke at the Minerals Council of Australia’s minerals week, said each electric vehicle has around $5000 worth of minerals with Australia capable of supplying almost all of it.

“Australia is the only country in the world with resources in all three of the critical battery metals, as well as other minerals required for the clean energy transition,” she said.

“By 2030, the value of the global lithium-ion battery market is forecast to be $400 billion. That’s eight-times the revenue generated by Australia’s coal exports in 2020.”

Tesla has also valued Australia’s environmental social governance (ESG) practice and investor confidence in mining.

“In short, a values-led mining industry has greater value to Tesla and to an increasing portion of the global marketplace,” Denholm said.

“…Australia has the potential for some of the lowest emissions resources in the world.

“This is critically important over the next 30 years, because manufacturing as a whole has to decarbonise very quickly and this means that low-carbon minerals will be at a strong advantage in the new supply chains being created for renewable energy.”

According to Denholm, Australia has a competitive opportunity to enhance its environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices for the future.

“Tesla is the world’s largest manufacturer of electric vehicles and battery storage systems,” Denholm said.

“At the heart of everything we do in our quest to accelerate the transition to sustainable energy is the lithium-ion battery – one of the most important technologies of the century.

“There is a global transition to sustainable energy underway and this presents a huge opportunity for Australia.”

Denholm said Australia should also prioritise onshore refining of its lithium to save costs and reduce emissions.

“There’s another reason for Australia to prioritise onshore refining; it’s a huge economic opportunity,” Denholm said.

“Tesla estimates that last year, Australia supplied approximately 49 per cent of the world’s lithium ore – spodumene – but zero per cent of the refined product suitable for battery cells. That lithium sold for about $100 million US Dollars – but if it was processed on shore in Australia the value would have been more like $1.7 billion dollars.

“So that’s a $1.6 billion annual opportunity and growing.”

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