GM Strikes $69M Deal to Source Nickel and Cobalt from Australia

General Motors Co. in Detroit has secured a new source of cost-competitive nickel and cobalt for its Ultium battery cells after making a $69 million investment in Queensland Pacific Metals of Australia.
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GM has secured a new source of nickel and cobalt for its Ultium battery cells after making a $69 million investment in Queensland Pacific Metals of Australia. // Stock Photo
GM has secured a new source of nickel and cobalt for its Ultium battery cells after making a $69 million investment in Queensland Pacific Metals of Australia. // Stock Photo

General Motors Co. in Detroit has secured a new source of cost-competitive nickel and cobalt for its Ultium battery cells after making a $69 million investment in Queensland Pacific Metals of Australia.

The nickel laterite ore is expected to be processed using a new and proprietary process that helps reduce waste with no requirement of a tailings dam. As part of the agreement, GM is expected to invest up to $69 million in Queensland Pacific Metals for the development of its proposed Townsville Energy Chemicals Hub (TECH) Project in northern Australia.

The nickel and cobalt from Queensland Pacific Metals will help power a broad portfolio of trucks, SUVs, vans, and luxury vehicles from GM, including the Chevrolet Silverado EV, GMC Hummer EV Pickup and SUV, Cadillac LYRIQ, and Chevrolet’s Blazer EV and 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,” says Jeff Morrison, vice president of global purchasing and supply chain at GM. “Importantly, the agreement demonstrates our commitment to building strong supplier relationships and is aligned with our approach to responsible sourcing and supply chain management.”

Queensland Pacific Metals’ proposed TECH Project is poised to become a leading supplier of high-grade, advanced battery materials, according to the company. The sustainable, high-purity battery materials refinery is being developed in response to the growing demand for battery materials for electric vehicles, particularly nickel and cobalt.

“We are absolutely delighted to collaborate with General Motors,” says Stephen Grocott, CEO of Queensland Pacific Metals. “GM’s strategic direction, company values and focus on sustainability in its pursuit of making electric vehicles for all is a perfect fit for Queensland Pacific Metals and our TECH Project.

“GM’s investment in our company and the associated offtake brings us one step closer towards construction of the TECH Project where we will one day aim to deliver the world’s cleanest produced nickel and cobalt. We thank GM for their belief in our TECH Project and look forward to becoming part of the GM sustainably sourced raw material supply chain.”

High-grade nickel laterite ore will be imported from nearby New Caledonia for processing at the TECH facility using a patented refining and recycling process called the DNi Process, which, according to Queensland Pacific Metals, utilizes environmentally conscious methods for extracting nickel, cobalt, and other precious metals from the laterite.

Queensland Pacific Metals has obtained the rights to use the DNi Process from Altilium Group. Key features of the DNi Process include more than 98 percent nitric acid recycling, no tailings dam requirements, and less waste than traditional extraction processes.

The TECH Project is expected to begin construction in 2023.

“GM already has binding agreements securing all battery raw material supporting our goal of 1 million units of annual capacity in North America by the end of 2025,” Morrison says. “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.”

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