Tesla has reached an agreement with the government of New Caledonia and the Brazilian mining company Vale on long-term purchases of nickel, writes the Financial Times. This metal is used to make cathodes for lithium-ion batteries.
New Caledonia is formally part of France. It is an island territory in the Pacific Ocean east of Australia. This is where some of the largest nickel reserves are located.
The deal could have been concluded earlier, but in December protests were held in the country demanding independence from France. This caused political instability and postponed the sale of the nickel mine to mining company Vale. Now all parties have been able to reach an agreement.
Earlier, Elon Musk said more than once about his readiness to conclude a contract for the purchase of a large amount of nickel. At the same time, he always made a reservation that it was critical for Tesla to choose a supplier that mines metal without harm to the environment.
Due to a temporary shortage of nickel, Tesla and other EV makers have even begun switching to lithium iron phosphate batteries. They are cheaper, last longer, but have a higher specific gravity. As a result, Tesla decided that this alternative is suitable for basic versions of cars with the smallest power reserve, but for top versions with the most capacious batteries, batteries with nickel cathodes must be used.
At the beginning of last fall, Tesla presented its own batteries for the first time. Previously, she made batteries from LG and Panasonic batteries. The new 4680 batteries, which have not yet started production, will have nickel parts.