NEW YORK, March 5, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The impressive increase of electric vehicles (EV) is creating a significant increase in demand battery minerals, a demand that is fueling growth for mining companies, especially for those with operations in Indonesia, one of the world's top producers of battery minerals.
Bolt Metals Corporation (CSE: BOLT) (OTCQB: PCRCF) (XFRA: NXFE) (BOLT Profile), one of the companies working in Indonesia, recently announced a name change as it evolves into a leading resource developer in this growing market. Several leading auto makers are contributing to the surging EV market as they focus on manufacturing quality electric vehicles. For the third year in a row, Honda Motor Company Ltd. (NYSE:HMC) has earned the Kelley Blue Book Plug-In Hybrid Car Best Buy with its Honda Clarity model. Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) has seen impressive success with its Tesla Model 3, which is one of the best-selling cars in Europe. Toyota Motor Corporation (NYSE:TM) just announced plans to build a new electric vehicle plant in China. And Toyota is partnering with Panasonic Corp ADR (OTC:PCRFY) to establish Prime Planet Energy & Solutions, Inc., a joint venture specializing in automotive prismatic batteries.
- Growth of EV industry expected to create two- or three-fold increases in demand for battery minerals over the next decade.
- Home to 25% of the world's nickel resources, Indonesia is essential source of key minerals.
- China leads world EV-battery production; critical market for battery minerals.
- Indonesia recognizes opportunity, focused on developing own EV industry.
To view an infographic of this editorial, click here.
Electric Vehicles Drive Battery Metal Market
The last decade saw significant trends in technology; some of the most significant interest and growth was focused on the EV industry. Once a pipe dream of green technologists, electric vehicles enjoyed tremendous growth in the past decade. By 2018, global EV sales had reached 2 million units, and that number is expected to double to 4 million in 2020. In addition, the once-lofty price of these vehicles is falling, and their battery packs could be cheaper than equivalent combustion-engine models as early as 2022.
This momentum is causing huge growth in the market for the metals used in EV batteries. Industry experts predict that the EV market will need around 1.3 million tons of nickel each year by 2030, compared with 600,000 tons in 2018. Cobalt is facing a similar rise in demand, with experts predicting a 332% increase in global supply from its 2017 levels, to 314,000 tons per annum.
Changing Brands for a Changing Market
This growing market is driving changes in companies working in the industry, a movement reflected by the evolving strategies of business-savvy companies such as Bolt Metals Corp. (CSE: BOLT) (OTCQB: PCRCF) (XFRA: NXFE). Formerly Pacific Rim Cobalt Corp., Bolt Metals has rebranded itself as part of their strategy to leverage opportunities in the rapidly expanding EV supply chain, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.
"Rebranding the company is an important step in our emergence as a resource developer in Asia's expanding electric vehicle supply chain," said Bolt Metals CEO Ranjeet Sundher. "The company remains focused on acquiring and developing production-grade, battery-metal projects within the Asia Pacific region, while employing a vertically integrated 'mineral‐to‐market' strategy to leverage these assets to their fullest."
Bolt Metals has been transitioning from its initial position as a cobalt producer and moving into a broader position as a battery-cathode material supplier. BOLT's Cyclops project in northern Indonesia, a rich source of cobalt and nickel, plays a significant part in this transition.
But it's the projects location and favorable characteristics such as strong infrastructure and proximity to a skilled workforce that creates potential for the Cyclops project and a reflection of bigger changes in the EV market.
Indonesia: The New Electric Vehicle Hub?
Indonesia boasts a rich supply of the mineral resources that the EV industry needs. The country provides 25% of the world's nickel reserves as well as other metals such as cobalt. These are crucial metals in the production of EV batteries and, therefore, in the entire supply chain for these vehicles.
Bolt Metals' Cyclops operation is designed to tap into these valuable resources. Throughout 2019, the company has been involved in surveys and test drilling, in addition to assessing existing records on the mineral resources at a site in Papua Province, on the north coast of Indonesia. This concentrated research has confirmed the presence of significant high-grade material near ground surface at the site. As Bolt Metals moves forward with plans for extraction, testing and processing, the company does so secure in the knowledge that the minerals are not only present but easily accessible.
The richness of Indonesia's mineral deposits isn't the only reason for the country's growing prominence in the EV supply chain. Indonesia's location on the rim of the Pacific gives the country a straight nautical transport route to Japan, a major player in developing new technology, and China. China is developing its own battery industry, focused on becoming a leader in the production of power cells to be used in all sorts of products. Both countries represent significant markets for EV minerals, markets to which Indonesia can easily cater because of its favorable geographic location.
The Indonesian government is leveraging its advantages as it actively works to strengthen its EV industry. Last year, Indonesian president Joko Widodo signed a decree outlining the government's support for Indonesian EV production. The plan includes reduced tariffs for companies importing equipment for EV production, thereby making it easier for the industry to grow. New regulations are creating a profitable space for companies such as Bolt Metals.
Feeding the Chinese Battery Market
While domestic EV plays a critical part in Indonesia's strategy, the country is still open and welcoming to other markets. In fact, several major Chinese companies are following a similar path to Bolt Metals, investing in the Indonesian mineral industry to ensure the supplies they need for battery production.
The significance of China in the global battery market cannot be overstated. According to research by Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, 88 out of 115 lithium-ion-battery megafactories around the world are located in China. The country has carefully positioned itself as the center of the global technology supply chain. Previously China's power has been most obvious in consumer electronics, but it is becoming increasingly evident that the country is playing an important role in the rise of EV, as reflected in deals such as the that between Tesla and Chinese battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd.
For companies operating in Indonesia, such as Bolt Metals, this represents a double opportunity. First, companies can become involved in the foundation of an integrated EV sector within Indonesia, in which minerals can be delivered quickly and easily to a fast-growing market. Second, companies can become involved in exporting to China, perhaps the largest market for these minerals in the world.
With rich mineral deposits and two substantial markets, Bolt Metals is anticipating a bright future.
A Critical Industry
The burgeoning EV industry is at the center of this bright future, with the top auto makers around the world rising to the challenge of producing high-quality, eco-friendly vehicles.
Honda Motor Company Ltd.'s (NYSE: HMC) Honda Clarity has been available for three years — and has earned the Kelley Blue Book Plug-in Hybrid Car Best Buy all three years. "Launched new for the 2018 model year, the Honda Clarity is offered in three very distinct variants: pure electric, fuel cell, and PHEV," Kelley noted when announcing the honor. "While this jack-of-all-trades assortment of powertrains may sound like Honda has made compromises, just the opposite is true — the Clarity was engineered as a clean-sheet design with each of those unique models in mind. As a result, driving dynamics are excellent, cargo space and interior utility impressive, and passenger concessions are few and far between."
Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) has seen impressive success with its Tesla Model 3, which is one of the best-selling cars in Europe. "Until recently European auto executives regarded Tesla with something like bemusement," a recent "New York Times" article reported. "The electric car upstart from California was burning cash, struggling with production problems, and hedge funds were betting it would fail. The car executives are not laughing anymore. Almost overnight, the Tesla Model 3 has become one of the best-selling cars in Europe. In December, only the Volkswagen Golf and Renault Clio sold more, according to data compiled by JATO Dynamics, a market research firm."
Recognizing the EV wave of the future, Toyota Motor Corporation (NYSE: TM) recently announced plans to partner with First Automobile Works (FAW) to build an electric vehicle plant in Tianjin, China. The two companies will invest about $1.22 billion in the plant, which is expected to produce 200,000 battery-only, plug-in hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles annually. This news follows the launch of care maker's C-HR and IZOA models, the first battery-electric vehicles to launch in China under the Toyota brand.
Toyota is also partnering with Panasonic Corp ADR (OTC: PCRFY) to establish Prime Planet Energy & Solutions Inc., a joint venture specializing in automotive prismatic batteries. The joint venture will focus on developing highly competitive, cost-effective batteries that offer excellent quality and performance in terms of capacity, output and durability. The joint venture will supply batteries not only to Toyota but also to all customers.
With the demand for electric vehicles increasing significantly, mineral producers are seizing the opportunities found in a growing battery industry.
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