DeepGreen to go public in $2.9bn SPAC deal
DeepGreen Metals, an EV battery metals maker, has revealed it will be acquired by Sustainable Opportunities Acquisition Corp (SOAC) in a $2.9bn deal consisting of a $330mn private investment from investors along with Allseas, adding to the list of existing strategic investors such as Maersk Supply Service and Glencore.
DeepGreen has developed a process for producing metals from polymetallic nodules with near-zero solid waste, eliminating the need for tailings dams on land.
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 labour exploitation including child labour.
SOAC, a so-called special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), raised $300mn in an initial public offering in May last year. SPACs are shell companies which raise funds to pursue an acquisition at a later date. It serves as an alternative to a traditional IPO for companies looking to enter public markets. The combined entity will be listed under the new ticker symbol “TMC”.
Gerard Barron, DeepGreen Chairman and CEO, commented: "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.”
DeepGreen Metals Inc. is a Canadian developer of lower-impact battery metals from seafloor polymetallic nodules, on a dual mission: (1) supply metals for the clean energy transition with the least possible negative environmental and social impact and (2) accelerate the transition to a circular metal economy. The company through its subsidiaries holds exploration and commercial rights to three polymetallic nodule contract areas in the Clarion Clipperton Zone of the Pacific Ocean sponsored by the governments of Nauru, Kiribati and the Kingdom of Tonga, which are regulated by the International Seabed Authority.
BHP deliberates ditching fossil fuels for greener mining
The world’s biggest miner, Australian-based BHP, is supposedly considering withdrawing from a multi-billion dollar contract, which would see the company generate more than US$2bn due to mounting pressure over aligning its business with ongoing climate concerns and ESG-compliance measures.
Exiting the agreement would mean BHP escalate its distancing from oil and gas and subsequently cut down on the amount of fossil fuels used by the company when mining.
It’s estimated that the petroleum business being debated upon could actually be worth around US$15bn but is still under talks to be put up for sale.
Global Mining Giant Considers Greener Future
BHP has made itself clear that it wants to avoid becoming unable to sell its assets. As competition within the market increases following higher numbers of oil giants wrestling with investors to deal with climate pressure, so too are the number of mining rivals looking to make environmental changes for the future.
However, BHP currently has the upper hand as a stalwart mining company that established itself back in the 1960s, allowing it the time to grow and dominate over other fast-appearing mining competition.
Mike Henry, BHP Chief Executive, has an optimistic outlook for the future of oil and gas despite worries over rising demand to align his business with the Paris Climate Agreement. Henry argues that prices remain promising due to a lack of industry-wide investment.
BHP’s petroleum business won’t be easy to say goodbye to. Forecasted to generate around 6% of profits during the ongoing financial year (US$2bn), and around US$1.6bn revenue produced by BHP petroleum in the six months leading to December 2020, BHP is due to take a hit no matter what agreement they choose.
On the other hand, distancing itself from thermal coal and petroleum would arguably aid the company’s case to possible - and valuable - investors who may be required to fund BHP’s increased output to places such as Australia and Mexico in the near future.
BHP considers cutting billion-dollar contract to aid climate
An exit away from petroleum has the potential to be “a powerful corporate catalyst,” says Dominic Kane, Analyst at JP Morgan.
“We believe an exit would likely ring-fence BHP’s exceptional cash flows for non-fossil fuel organic growth, mergers and acquisitions and generous shareholder distributions since BHP could avoid a major new capital investment phase this decade in petroleum.”
BHP is also set to sanction a giant US$5.7bn Canadian potash mine in August of this year, already seeing potash as a long-term substitute for gas and oil going into the future. The company has also previously announced plans to abandon its 80% share in its joint endeavour with Mitsui, owner of two lower-quality mines in Queensland, Australia.
BHP is scheduled to report its annual results on August 17, after which it may become clearer on whether the company will choose to focus its shift to a low-carbon economy or whether it will stay with its current contract into the coming year.