DeepGreen to combine with SOAC forming The Metals Company
DeepGreen Metals, a developer of lower-impact battery metals from unattached seafloor polymetallic nodules, today announced that it has entered into a definitive business combination agreement with Sustainable Opportunities Acquisition Corporation (SOAC), a special purpose acquisition company with a dedicated ESG focus and deep operational and capital market capabilities in the energy and resource sectors. The transaction, valued at $2.9bn, will create a new entity renamed The Metals Company.
DeepGreen is developing a new, scalable source of EV battery metals in the form of polymetallic nodules found unattached on the seafloor in the Pacific Ocean. The estimated resource on the seafloor in the exploration contract areas held by the company’s subsidiaries is sufficient for 280 million EVs – a quarter of the global passenger car fleet. The development of this resource offers an abundant, low-cost supply of critical raw materials for EV batteries and wiring including nickel, cobalt, copper and manganese, with a lower lifecycle ESG impact than conventional mining. Ensuring this critical supply of battery metals is essential to the transition from internal combustion engines to EVs, which faces the following risks:
- A slump in discovery of new metal deposits is widely expected to lead to shortages in key metals such as nickel and copper from 2024-2025 onwards;
- Rising raw materials prices risk undermining EV manufacturers’ efforts to drive down the cost of EV batteries necessary for mass adoption;
- Like fossil fuel extraction, conventional metals extraction comes at a steep cost to people and the planet, leading to vast deforestation in some of the most biodiverse areas on the planet. This is generating the world’s largest industrial waste stream and gigatons of emissions, poisoning ecosystems and people’s health, and driving potential labor exploitation including child labor.
Sustainable Opportnities Acquisiton Corporation
“Sourcing battery metals is the biggest hurdle facing the clean energy transition, and the pipeline of new mining projects on land is insufficient to meet rising demand,” commented Scott Leonard, CEO of SOAC. “We looked at over 100 companies, many of them in the EV and renewable energy space. DeepGreen stands above the rest. It offers a real, scalable solution to the raw materials problem, at a low production cost and with a significant reduction in the ESG footprint of metals. Assuming full-scale production, we expect The Metals Company to be among the lowest cost nickel producers in the world.
Gerard Barron, DeepGreen Chairman and CEO, added: "We are excited to partner with SOAC, an ESG-driven team that does not shy away from tough problems. The reality is that the clean energy transition is not possible without taking billions of tons of metal from the planet. Seafloor nodules offer a way to dramatically reduce the environmental bill of this extraction. We are getting into this industry with a deep commitment to ocean health and a clear stop date in mind. The plan is simple: produce better metals to supply the EV transition, while building up enough metal stock to stop extracting from the planet and enable society to live off recycled metals."
Global iron ore production to recover by 5.1% in 2021
Global iron ore production fell by 3% to 2.2bnt in 2020. Global production is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.7% to 2,663.4Mt between 2021 to 2025. The key contributors to this grow will be Brazil (6.2%), South Africa (4.1%), Australia (3.2%) and India (2.9%). Key upcoming projects expected to commence operations include South Flank in Australia (2021), Zulti in South Africa (H2 2021), Serrote Da Laje in Brazil (H2 2021) and Gudai-Darri (2022), according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
Vinneth Bajaj, Associate Project Manager at GlobalData, comments: “Declines from Brazil and India were major contributors to the reduced output in 2020. Combined production from these two countries fell from a collective 638.2Mt in 2019 to an estimated 591.1Mt in 2020. The reduced output from the iron ore giant, Vale, was the key factor behind Brazil’s reduced output, while delays in the auctioning of mines in Odisha affected India’s output in 2020.
“Miners in Australia were relatively unaffected by COVID-19 due to effective measures adopted by the Australian Government, while a speedy recovery in China led to a significant 10.4% increase in the country’s iron ore output.”
Looking ahead, the global iron ore production is expected to increase by 111.3Mt to 2,302.5Mt in 2021. Rio Tinto is expected to produce up to 340Mt of iron ore, while BHP has released production guidance of 245–255Mt, supported by the start of the Samarco project in December, which is expected to produce between 1–2Mt.The company has retained its guidance for Australian mines at 276–286Mt on a 100% basis, due to scheduled maintenance work at its ore handling plant and tie-in activity at the Area C mine and South-Flank mine.
Bajaj added: “The remaining companies are expected to produce more than 600Mt of iron ore, including FMG, whose production is expected to range between 175–180Mt supported by its Eliwana mine that commenced operations in late December 2020, and Anglo American, which is expecting to produce between 64–67Mt. Vale is expected to resume 40Mt of its production capacity, taking its overall production capacity to 350Mt in 2021, with production guidance of 315-335Mt.”