- Over the next 20 years, sales of electric vehicles are predicted to outstrip petrol and diesel engine cars.
- That has huge implications for the supply of metals that go into these vehicles.
- South African mining tycoon Brian Menell says China controls most of the supply for rare earth metals, lithium, and other important technology metals.
- He has founded TechMet to help challenge that dominance and says it could be a $1 billion company in five years.
By 2040, more people will be buying electric cars than traditional petrol and diesel engine vehicles, according to BloombergNEF data. That is good news for the environment, but the shift towards lithium-ion battery-powered cars has huge implications for a complex global supply chain that is currently dominated by China.
More than 11,000 feet up in the Andes mountains of southwest Bolivia lies Salar de Uyuni, a remote salt flat that is home to some of the world’s largest reserves of lithium.
Largely untapped, the seemingly endless expanse of bright white salt plains are on the verge of a frenzy of activity as a global scramble erupts to extract the metal and secure supplies for lithium-ion batteries – a basic building material for the electric vehicle industry.
TechMet Limited, a private industrial company that is building controlling or significant minority positions in world-class projects across the technology metal supply chain, today announces the appointment of Admiral Michael Mullen as Chairman of its Advisory Board.
Admiral Mullen was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States (2007-2011) and principal military advisor to both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. He presently serves on the Board of Directors of General Motors, Sprint, and the Bloomberg Philanthropies Foundation, and as an adjunct Professor at Princeton University. Admiral Mullen brings over 40 years of leadership experience with the US military, providing expertise on the key strategic threats to US national security. He has advised both governments and businesses on a broad range of strategic issues, including how business trends and the economic health of the US direct impact on national security.
For over 25 years Brian Menell, 53, has overseen, developed and managed natural resource and mining projects across 18 sub-Saharan African countries, and in the CIS and Canada. The Menell family founded and controlled the Anglovaal Group – one of the dominant players in the African mining and industrial scene over the last 80 years.
In this light, I was delighted to briefly chat with Menell about his new venture, TechMet, an industrial company that is building controlling or significant minority positions in world-class projects across the technology metal supply chain including mining, processing and recycling. He talked about the growing geopolitical significance of technology metals supply from Africa and other emerging markets.
JOHANNESBURG — South African-born mining veteran Brian Menell is shifting his focus to what looks set to become the next gold rush. Demand for minerals that make up batteries, for the likes of electric cars and other smart devices, is expected to soar over the next few years. Many minerals such as cobalt, lithium and tungsten are contained in modern batteries that have driven the globe's tech revolution.
Miners have sat up and taken notice as the likes of Glencore has made big plays in the space. However, as Brian Menell in this interview explains, China has come to completely dominate the mining and supply of these key materials. But Brian — who is part of the Menell family that is well-known for having founded successful SA mining and industrial conglomerate the Anglovaal Group — sees new opportunities in tapping mining operations outside of China in order to provide an alternative source of these key minerals for the world's ever-growing battery market. Menell, from his office in London, tells us more in this interview. - Gareth van Zyl
Listen to the Podcast.
Shares in cobalt producers rallied on Wednesday following news that Glencore, the world’s largest producer, had halted sales at its mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“This news highlights the fragility of the supply chain for battery metals when concentrated so heavily in one area,” Brian Menell, chief executive of London-based TechMet, which is looking to acquire stakes in projects mining cobalt and other technology metals, said. “We therefore expect to see short term volatility in the price due to this disruption.”
South African mining veteran Brian Menell wants to build a battery material giant to help challenge China’s domination of the nascent industry.
It’s still early days for his privately funded company, TechMet Ltd., which controls just a handful of assets from Canada to Rwanda. But he’s raising more money and sees countries such as the U.S. and Japan as potential partners to help catch China in the rapidly growing industry to provide battery grade supplies of everything from tin and tungsten to nickel and cobalt.
Sustainable Development Technology Canada
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Rainbow Rare Earths Ltd (LON:RBW) has signed a cooperation agreement with TechMet Limited to fund a Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) for downstream rare earth separation.
The rare earth metals miner said it would form a joint venture with TechMet to undertake the DFS, which would be fully funded by TechMe, following an initial scoping exercise on a reimbursable carry basis of up to US$3mln.