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Reuters - March 17, 2023
Volkswagen plans to invest in mines to bring down the cost of battery cells, meet half of its own demand and sell to third-party customers, the carmaker's board member in charge of technology said.

Volkswagen plans to invest in mines to bring down the cost of battery cells, meet half of its own demand and sell to third-party customers, the carmaker's board member in charge of technology said…Its strategy aligns with a wider trend of carmakers seeking greater control over parts of the supply chain traditionally left to third parties, from energy generation to raw material sourcing, as they compete for scarce resources they urgently need to meet electrification targets…Europe's biggest carmaker wants its battery unit PowerCo to become a global battery supplier, as well as meet half its own demand with plants mostly in Europe and North America, Thomas Schmall told Reuters in an interview…"The bottleneck for raw materials is mining capacity - that's why we need to invest in mines directly," he said…The carmaker was partnering on supply deals with mining companies in Canada, where it will build its first North American battery plant…Only Tesla has pledged more investment into battery production than Volkswagen, a Reuters analysis showed - though even the U.S. EV maker is struggling to ramp up production and is recruiting Asian suppliers to help…Few carmakers have disclosed direct stakes in mines, but many have struck deals with producers to source lithium, nickel and cobalt and pass them onto their battery suppliersSecuring those resources in time, close to refineries and from places outside of China is key to winning the battery race, Geordie Wilkes of the UCL Insitute for Sustainable Resources said…In Volkswagen's 180-billion-euro five year spending plan, up to 15 billion is earmarked for its three announced battery plants and some raw material sourcing…The carmaker has so far nailed down raw material supply until 2026 and will decide in the next few months how to meet its demand from then on, Schmall said in the interview. - March 17, 2023
Governments subsidize the industry heavily, but supply chains will likely limit growth.

With the runaway success of Tesla and the rapid rollout of competing electric vehicle models from major automakers, the switch away from fossil fuels and transportation seems a certainty. The automotive technology is in place, as is the tech needed to safely charge the vehicles at home and on the road. However, electric vehicles—particularly EV batteries—are different with respect to material inputs compared to internal combustion engine cars and trucks. In particular, lithium, cobalt and nickel are in high demand, and it’s unclear where supplies of these vital minerals will come from, and if there is enough worldwide at reasonable prices to drive the electric vehicle transition in the time frames required to meet climate change goals…Take a look at the material inputs. Like internal combustion engine vehicles, steel, aluminum, glass, rubber and plastics will be necessary in roughly the same proportion as they are for fossil fuel powered vehicles. More copper will be needed, primarily due to electric motors, but the real change is in the battery. Lithium, cobalt and nickel will be needed in significant quantities, and are not currently used in meaningful amounts in gasoline or diesel-fueled vehicles…Automakers can retool a factory for EV’s in a year, and there is now a Tier 1 and Tier 2 supplier base that can provide batteries, motors, control electronics, wiring harnesses and everything else needed to mass-produce electric vehicles. But what about those critical battery inputs?...The situation is even worse for cobalt, where the majority of production is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where cobalt mining is highly controversial due to corruption and human rights abuses…Significantly more lithium, cobalt, nickel, copper and other expensive metals are going to be necessary for at least a decade, until enough internal combustion engine vehicles are replaced to flatten demand growth. Automakers such as Tesla are attempting to control the skyrocketing costs by buying supply forward and investing in mineral processing companies and even investing in mines…This kind of vertical integration is usually a sign of desperation in manufacturing, and it’s risky. The other risk, of course, is geopolitical. With relatively few countries producing such a high percentage of critical materials, supply disruptions are a real possibility.

EurActiv - March 16, 2023
Commissioners notably announced they would set a number of explicit - though voluntary - targets it expects the EU to reach by 2030. 10% ...

The European Commission unveiled the new regulation on Thursday (16 March), setting targets for the production, refining and recycling of key raw materials needed for the green and digital transitions…The Critical Raw Materials Regulation marks yet another step in the EU’s intention to revamp its reindustrialisation and competitiveness agenda, after a year marked by high energy costs, supply chain disruptions, and the United States’ implementation of a large-scale Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) investment plan…Commissioners Valdis Dombrovskis and Thierry Breton, who jointly lead on the file, have one key objective in mind: reducing Europe’s reliance “on imports, often from quasi-monopolistic third country suppliers”, they said at a press conference in Brussels…As the European Commission puts the finishing touches to its Critical Raw Materials Act ahead of publication next week, recyclers have issued a word of caution: Europe should not get its hopes too high on recycling, at least not in the short term…At the heart of the file is the creation of ‘strategic projects’, which would benefit from streamlined permitting and easier financing, as the Commission estimates up to €20 billion is needed to support the raw materials sector’s growth…As for permitting, the current processes are “way too long” Breton said, adding that they are looking to reduce processing times from the current average of five years by half…The Commission draws a clear distinction between ‘strategic’ and ‘critical’ raw materials. Strategic metals are those with high importance in specific sectors – say, microchips or batteries – that may experience global demand/supply imbalances, and may be subject to barriers to trade from producing third countries…Critical raw materials (CRMs), on the other hand, are crucial for the EU economy at large, all the while facing risks of severe supply disruptions…Currently, China controls a large part of the extracting and refining process of a large number of raw materials, especially magnesium and rare earth, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) extracts 63% of the cobalt, a metal most needed in rechargeable battery electrodes, that lands in the EU…In the plan, Commission set a target threshold of a maximum of 65% of imports of any one strategic metal into the EU from a single country – down from 70%, as written in a leak from last week…Since the onset of the war in Ukraine, the EU has been increasingly wary of dependency on China, especially regarding critical raw materials. According to MEP Hildegard Bentele, the EU should prepare for the eventuality of a Chinese attack on Taiwan and potential subsequent sanctions and supply shortages…According to the Communications, the club will be “bringing together consuming countries and resource-rich countries to foster sustainable investment in producing countries and allowing them to move up the value chain”.

For further information about the NICO Project and its Mineral Reserves, please refer to the Technical Report on the Feasibility Study for NICO, entitled "Technical Report on the Feasibility Study for the NICO-Gold-Cobalt-Bismuth-Copper Project, Northwest Territories, Canada", dated April 2, 2014 and prepared by Micon, which has been filed on SEDAR and is available under the Company's profile at


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