BMW inks $335mn lithium supply deal with Livent
The BMW Group will be accelerating its expansion of e-mobility in the coming years. This will also increase the need for lithium, an important raw material for production of battery cells. For this reason, the company will source lithium from a second leading supplier, US-based Livent. The value of the multi-year contract will total around $335mn (€285mn). Livent will supply the lithium directly to the BMW Group’s battery cell manufacturers from 2022 onwards.
By 2030, at least half the BMW's global sales are expected to come from fully-electric vehicles.
“Lithium is one of the key raw materials for electromobility. By sourcing lithium from a second supplier, we are securing requirements for production of our current fifth generation of battery cells. At the same time, we are making ourselves technologically, geographically and geopolitically less dependent on individual suppliers,” commented Dr Andreas Wendt, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Purchasing and Supplier Network.
BMW previously signed a contract for the procurement of lithium from so-called hard-rock deposits at Australian mines back in 2019. Now, the company is broadening its supplier base and additionally sourcing lithium from Argentina, where the raw material is obtained from brine from salt lakes. Livent employs an innovative method, that emphasises sustainable water use and minimises the impact on local ecosystems and communities. The company will also contribute important data to the study of sustainable lithium mining initiated by the BMW Group.
The BMW Group sources critical raw materials like lithium and cobalt directly from producers and makes them available to its battery cell suppliers. In this way, the company creates complete transparency over the origin and mining methods of the material.
The salt lakes in the border region between Argentina, Bolivia and Chile are home to roughly half the world’s lithium reserves. In conventional lithium mining, brine from the layers below the salt lakes is pumped out of the ground and evaporated in shallow basins.
Livent obtains lithium from a brine resource in northern Argentina, using a proprietary method that is particularly sustainable. To minimise the impact on the surrounding ecosystem, most of the brine used is returned directly to the surrounding habitat and not evaporated. This largely preserves the balance between the brine layers and groundwater layers. Solvents and other chemicals do not come into contact with the environment during this process. It also takes up much less space, since evaporation basins are barely used. The company is also involved in local educational programmes and infrastructure measures.
IRMA (Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance)
The BMW Group became the first automotive manufacturer worldwide to join the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) in early 2020. IRMA is a multi-stakeholder governed initiative that has developed guidelines for responsible extraction of raw materials and defined strict requirements for meeting its environmental and social standards. The BMW Group has set itself the goal of having mining suppliers certified according to this standard in the future. On the recommendation of the BMW Group, Livent has now become a pending member of IRMA, signifying its commitment to undergo a third-party audit in IRMA. Livent is the first company with mining operations in Argentina to have made this commitment, and one of the first lithium mining companies in the world to do so.
The BMW Group will already have about a dozen fully-electric models on the roads from 2023. Between now and 2025, the BMW Group will increase its sales of fully-electric models by an average of well over 50 percent per year – more than ten times the number of units sold in 2020. By the end of 2025, the company will have delivered a total of around two million fully-electric vehicles to customers.
Based on its current market forecast, the company expects at least 50 percent of its global sales to come from fully-electric vehicles in 2030. At this point, there will no longer be any segment position in the BMW Group’s entire product portfolio where the company does not offer at least one fully-electric model. The company will also be capable of handling a much larger percentage of fully-electric vehicles if demand develops accordingly. In total, over the next ten years or so, the BMW Group will be releasing about ten million fully-electric vehicles onto the roads.
DRC selects Fortescue to develop giant hydro project
Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC's) government said on Tuesday Fortescue Metals Group would develop the Grand Inga hydroelectric power project, including a 4,800-megawatt dam that has already been committed to Chinese and Spanish developers.
Fortescue to develop dams for world's largest hydroelectric project
Australia's Fortescue confirmed it was in talks with Congo to develop a series of dams that could become the world's largest hydroelectric project, but it said no formal binding agreement had been concluded.
Fortescue's involvement is the latest twist in Congo's decades-long quest to expand Inga, whose two existing dams - completed in 1972 and 1982 - have a combined installed capacity of nearly 1,800 MW.
The proposed expansion of six more dams would bring capacity to over 40,000 MW, roughly double the size of China's Three Gorges dam, currently the world's largest. Total development costs have been estimated at up to $80bn.
In 2018, a Chinese consortium that includes China Three Gorges Corporation and a Spanish consortium that includes AEE Power signed a deal with Congo's government to develop the third dam, known as Inga 3.
Ground has yet to be broken on Inga 3 because of questions over its financial viability. Alexy Kayembe De Bampende, President Felix Tshisekedi's top infrastructure advisor, said the project would now be led by Fortescue.
"Fortescue will be the sole operator for the entire Grand Inga (3 to 8). Chinese & co are welcome to join Fortescue," he told Reuters."There has been discussion between Chinese (Three Gorges) & AEE and (Fortescue) since last year to work together."
Three Gorges and AEE Power did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
DRC's Grand Inga green energy project will create hundreds of thousands of jobs
In a memorandum of understanding signed between Fortescue and Congo in September 2020, Fortescue "acknowledges the existing potential rights held on Inga 3 by third parties".
"In the event that, for any reason, such rights to develop Inga 3 become available, the government of the DRC undertakes to secure for Fortescue Future Industries an exclusive first option to develop Inga 3," it said.
A senior official at the government's Agency for the Development and Promotion of Grand Inga (ADPI), speaking on condition of anonymity, said the ADPI had not been involved in the talks with Fortescue.
Fortescue chairman Andrew Forrest met Congo President Felix Tshisekedi on Sunday to discuss the project. Forrest said Fortescue would use the energy from Inga to produce hydrogen to export around the world.
"The capital cost of this will be many many tens of billions of dollars and direct and indirect employment will be in the hundreds of thousands," he told reporters.
Fortescue has said it plans to fund the majority of its green energy projects off its balance sheet, investing about $1bn a year of its own money.
Fortescue's statement was made in response to an article in the Australian Financial Review.
Meanwhile, Fortescue has teamed up with Hatch, Anglo American and BHP, to form a Green Hydrogen Consortium focused on ways of using green hydrogen to accelerate decarbonisation within their operations globally.