02/06/2021 - 15:37

Tesla set for $1bn a year spending in Australia

02/06/2021 - 15:37

Bookmark

Save articles for future reference.

Electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla estimates it could soon be spending $1 billion annually buying Australian minerals, with the country also well positioned for low carbon manufacturing.

Tesla set for $1bn a year spending in Australia
Tesla is a manufacturer of electric vehicles.

Electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla estimates it could soon be spending $1 billion annually buying Australian minerals, with the country also well positioned for low carbon manufacturing.

Tesla Australia chair Robyn Denholm made the projection while extolling opportunities for Australia to move down the battery mineral value chain at a Minerals Council event in Canberra.

“As an Australian it gives me real pride to know that the vehicles and batteries Tesla makes start from minerals many of which are sourced right here,” Ms Denholm said. 

“In fact, three quarters of Tesla’s lithium feedstock is currently sourced from Australia, and over a third of our nickel.

“All up, there’s about $5000 worth of minerals and metals in every electric vehicle and Australia is 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.”

That lithium and nickel is sourced largely from Western Australia, with the Talison Lithium Greenbushes mine the world’s largest supplier of spodumene rock.

Three lithium refineries are under construction or likely in WA, with Tianqi Lithium’s Kwinana plant the most developed.

Covalent Lithium recently secured environmental approval for a refinery nearby in Kwinana, and Albemarle Corporation is building a facility in Kemerton.

Ms Denholm said Australia had the potential for some of the world's lowest emissions resources exports.

“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," Ms Denholm said.

“Mining process currently accounts for roughly half of the carbon footprint of a battery cell.

“And the best way to reduce the carbon footprint of minerals is to stop shipping them across 9000 kilometres of ocean before refining them. 

“Take Lithium for example. 

“There would 10 times less carbon pollution if Australia’s world class spodumene is converted to lithium chemicals locally in Western Australia. 

“That’s because of two factors.

“Firstly, transport, because obviously refined lithium weighs a lot less, and that saves shipping megatonnes of metal overseas.

“Second, the calcination step in refining is very energy intensive and is mostly done offshore with coal based energy grids.

“In Australia it could be done with renewable energy from a cleaner grid, more modern plants, and a shorter supply chain. 

“That means a lot less expense and pollution.”

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options