Britishvolt and Glencore partner to secure cobalt supply

18 August 2021

Tech firm Britishvolt is partnering with miner Glencore to secure a supply of cobalt for its £4bn battery factory. 

Glencore announced it is investing an undisclosed amount in Britishvolt to help the shift to net zero.

Cobalt is an essential material in the construction of batteries for electric vehicles. The mineral is a byproduct of Glencore’s copper mining operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and its nickel mining in Australia and Canada. 

Orral Nadjari, the CEO and founder of Britishvolt, said: “This is a huge step in the right direction for Britishvolt as we look to accelerate the transition to a low carbon society. By partnering with Glencore, we are locking in supply and de-risking the project.”

He said the partnership would ensure “supply chains are as ethical, low carbon and sustainable as is possible.”

Britishvolt has suffered various setbacks, after initial plans to produce lithium-ion batteries for electric cars in the Vale of Glamorgan fell through due to disagreements with local authorities. 

The factory is now set to be built on the site of the decommissioned Blyth Power Station coal stocking yard in Northumberland. Britishvolt claims the factory will create 3,000 jobs and an additional 5,000 in associated supply chains.

Once the factory is at full capacity, the company expects to produce enough cells to power 300,000 electric vehicle battery packs a year.

Britishvolt hopes to begin battery production in 2023. 

David Brocas, head cobalt trader at Glencore, said the move will help to achieve net-zero targets by 2050. 

He said: “Our commitment to support our partners in meeting their requirements for essential battery ingredients is key to underpinning long-term supply agreements. As the mobility and energy transition accelerates, so does future demand for battery metals such as cobalt, copper and nickel.”

The announcement comes after the Environmental Audit Committee claimed the UK would need eight high-volume battery manufacturing plants by 2040 to meet the demand for electric vehicles after the government bans the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030.

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