Tesla has agreed to a nickel supply deal with Talon Metals, a Minnesota-based company. It is the first United States supply of nickel for the electric automaker.
Little-known Talon Metals (OTCMKTS: TLOFF) is traded in the OTC Markets Group and holds a valuation of 421.48M CAD ($332,456,465).
Some terms of the deal are not public knowledge, according to Reuters, who initially reported the agreement. However, Tesla will buy 75,000 tonnes of nickel over six years, and Talon will also provide cobalt and iron ore to the electric automaker for its batteries. Additionally, the agreement may be extended “for up to 12 months following which Tesla has a right to terminate the agreement and Talon may elect to sell to other parties.”
“This agreement is the start of an innovative partnership between Tesla and Talon for the responsible production of battery materials directly from the mine to the battery cathode. Talon is committed to meeting the highest standards of responsible production that is fully traceable and that has the lowest embedded CO2 footprint in the industry. Talon is excited to support Tesla’s mission to accelerate the transition to renewable energy,” CEO of Talon, Henri van Rooyen, said.
“The Talon team has taken an innovative approach to the discovery, development and production of battery materials, including to permanently store carbon as part of mine operations and the investigation of the novel extraction of battery materials,” Drew Baglino, Senior Vice President of Powertrain and Energy Engineering at Tesla, said. “Responsible sourcing of battery materials has long been a focus for Tesla, and this project has the promise to accelerate the production of sustainable energy products in North America.”
In July 2020, Tesla CEO Elon Musk called upon mining companies to supply more nickel. “Well, I’d just like to reemphasize, any mining companies out there, please mine more nickel, OK?” Musk asked. “Wherever you are in the world, please mine more nickel, and don’t wait for nickel to go back to some long–some high point that you experienced some five years ago or whatever. Go for efficiency, as environmentally friendly, nickel mining at high volume. Tesla will give you a giant contract for a long period of time if you mine nickel efficiently and in an environmentally sensitive way. So hopefully, this message goes out to all mining companies.”
Nickel has been sought after by Tesla since then due to its environmental advantages over other rare earth metals that are used in electric car batteries. Since Musk’s call for nickel suppliers to mine more of it, Tesla has discussed and secured some nickel deals, including one with LG to supply high-nickel batteries to Gigafactory Shanghai in China next year. Tesla also signed an agreement with BHP, an Australian nickel company, in July 2021.
Tesla has also been in need of nickel while the company still develops and builds its 4680 battery cell. Nickel is a key material that Tesla needs for its high-powered batteries, including the 4680 cells. The cells are currently in pilot production at the company’s Kato Road facility in Fremont, California.