Elon Musk, the miner? The founder of Tesla believes it could happen

In a tweet posted late Friday, Twitter’s largest contributor, Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk, noted that the “crazy” costs of critical minerals that are integral to building his auto production line are making him consider going into the mining business. and treatment by himself.

“The price of lithium has gone crazy,” Musk, currently ranked #1 on Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires, tweeted. “Tesla may in fact have to get into direct mining and refining on a large scale, unless costs improve. There is no shortage of the element itself, lithium is almost everywhere on Earth, but the pace of extraction/optimization is slow.”

Musk was responding to the tweet below posted by the statistician, which documents the exponential rise in lithium prices in recent years:

The price of this important metal has risen by 1,200 per cent over the past two years, a fact that led in part to Tesla announcing earlier in the week that it would raise the price of its Model 3 EV by €7,000, to its US equivalent. $54,838. The price increase will result in the company’s German customers being unable to access a large portion of the €9,000 price-sensitive subsidy provided by the German national government, making the Model 3 less price-competitive in the market.

The Model 3’s price increase comes on the heels of price hikes on some of the company’s other models, and by rival automakers. The rapid rise in the prices of lithium and other important metals such as copper, cobalt and others were among the main factors behind those increases in the prices of electric vehicles.

It’s important to remember that the world is in the very early stages of this latest round of electric vehicle propulsion (previous failed attempts to do so date back to the late 1800s). Less than a year ago, the International Energy Agency released a report warning that, to meet the ambitious, and unrealistic goals that had been set for electric vehicle development by governments in the United States and Europe, demand for lithium would rise by 4,000 percent by 2040, as demand for other metals.

Global electric vehicle sales have increased dramatically in recent years, reaching more than 6.8 million through 2021. Meanwhile, demand for lithium-ion batteries used in the electric vehicle industry has also risen in relation to a host of other applications. With all of that happening during a period of massive supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors, the increasing cost of these important minerals is not at all surprising.

In a subsequent tweet on the same topic, Musk added: “We have some great ideas for sustainably extracting and purifying lithium.” It’s worth noting here that the visionary CEO has been enjoying his company’s potential need for its own mining efforts since at least 2020, when Fortune Magazine reported that Tesla was able to secure its mining rights in Nevada after a potential acquisition deal fell off a mining company.

According to that report, Tesla has had discussions in recent months with Cypress Development Corp. , which is seeking to extract lithium from clay deposits in southwestern Nevada, but the parties have not reached an agreement, said the people, who asked not to be named. Because the information is not public. Instead, the electric car maker, which has pledged to cut its battery costs by 50%, has focused on the plan that CEO Elon Musk laid out last week to mine lithium on its own in the state.

So getting into the mining business alone is an idea that’s clearly been leaking at Tesla for several years now. Hey, Musk’s SpaceX project flew three paying customers and a former astronaut to the International Space Station this week, the same week that his company’s largest Gigafactory opened on the eastern edge of Austin, Texas, a mile-long facility built in about a year and a half. .

If he can achieve these things, why would anyone doubt his ability to successfully launch a mining business?


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