Welcome to Eagle’s Eye: The Responsible Mining Podcast. There’s no denying that electric vehicles (EVs) are gaining popularity. JP Morgan estimates that by 2025, 30% of all vehicle sales will be electric or hybrids. In this episode, Noront Chief Development Officer Steve Flewelling talks with host Alan Coutts about what is needed to meet the demand for EV battery metals and how nickel and copper manufacturers like Noront will “plug into” this growing market.
Stephen Flewelling has been in the mining business for more than 35 years, mainly in the area of nickel mining. He has worked internationally for world-class nickel companies including Falconbridge, Xstrata and Glencore on mine development and operation.
What is nickel used For? (3:10)
- Nickel is the primary ingredient in high-quality stainless steel because it’s flexible and resists corrosion. It is used in household items like knives, forks, pots and pans, dental instruments and even jet engines.
What does nickel have to do with batteries? (4:51)
- Electric vehicles require batteries that charge fast and are reasonably lightweight.
- Lead-acid batteries used in regular car engines are big and charge slowly.
- Lithium ion is a newer battery technology used in electric vehicles.
- While lithium is needed as a transfer substance these batteries actually contain mostly other metals like nickel, cobalt and copper.
- A lot of research is going into reducing lithium and cobalt use as they are in limited supply.
- This increases the need for nickel so the battery can do the same work.
How will the nickel market benefit from EV production? (8:29)
- Nickel and other metals are needed to make fast and sustainable electric vehicle charges
- Today’s nickel production, primarily used for stainless steel is about 2M tonnes globally
- The EV battery business has the potential to increase nickel demand by about 50%
What are the benefits for nickel producers like Noront? (9:26)
- As demand for nickel increases, so will the price.
- EV batteries require sulphide nickel, the type of nickel Noront has in its Eagle’s Nest deposit.
- This will feed conventional smelters and refineries in Sudbury and deliver class one nickel, which brings a potentially a higher price.
More about Noront’s Eagle’s Nest deposit? (10:52)
- Eagle’s Nest is a high-quality, medium-sized deposit discovered in the Ring of Fire in 2007.
- It contains 20M tonnes of nickel which will be mined at a rate of 1M tonnes/year for a 20-year mine life.
- Noront will produce 15,000 tones of nickel concentrate, a mineral sand used as the first stage of ore processing, which will be further processed into nickel, copper and platinum palladium.
Won’t we be mining more metals as we move away from internal combustion engines? (13:36)
- No, it’s a transition to different types of metals.
- There will be less basic iron and more nickel and copper in an EV battery.
“Noront Resources’ Eagle’s Nest deposit is going to be a major contributor into a new world of electric vehicle batteries and is going to help us move into this world of lower carbon dependence.”
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