EV Makers Must Partner With Miners to Secure Key Metals

A key lithium producer in Australia, the world’s top supplier, is urging electric car manufacturers and battery makers to become its partners in new refinery projects, arguing their direct financial backing is vital to avoid shortfalls of the material that’s crucial to the clean energy transition.

Pilbara Minerals Ltd. is seizing on a current rush by automakers to secure future supplies of battery materials by seeking new deals with customers to jointly develop refineries, Chief Executive Officer Dale Henderson said in an interview.

“There’s certainly a level of desperation from some groups” who are end-users of lithium and seeking more access to output, he said. “If you believe the supply-demand outlook, there’s going to be a shortage, and the car companies who haven’t secured the supply chain are going to have a problem.”

Lithium demand is forecast to almost triple by mid-decade from last year’s level, BloombergNEF said in a July report. Prices hit a new record in China last month on increasing consumption, with automakers including BMW AG and General Motors Co. among companies adding new supply agreements in recent weeks.