Published on April 2nd, 2014 | by Robyn Purchia3
Tesla Factory May Get Greener Raw Materials For Its Batteries From Arizona
April 2nd, 2014 by Robyn Purchia
Southwestern States like Texas and New Mexico aren’t the only ones vying for a piece of the Tesla Gigafactory pie. Last week American Manganese Inc., a new Arizona company with the only domestic supply of electrolytic manganese metals (EMM), announced its interest in supplying the Tesla Factory with raw materials for its lithium ion batteries.
“It is my belief that Tesla’s project is concrete evidence of the growth and viability of the electric car market, resulting in greater demand for lithium ion batteries,” said Larry W. Reaugh, president and chief executive officer of American Manganese Inc. “The need for secure metal feed stocks used to make these batteries; such as Manganese, Cobalt, Lithium, Carbon, and others; will correspondingly increase to meet the soaring electric vehicle demand.” Of course, a deal with Tesla for supplies would obviously mean great things for any company- especially a new and growing American mine company. Still, American Manganese offers a low-cost, more environmentally-friendly product that Tesla shouldn’t pass up.
In 2011, over 97% of global EMM production was sourced from China with South Africa accounting for the remaining 2.1% of global supply. The lack of a domestic supply worried those who wanted to see the EV market succeed in the United States because prices for EMM were just too high for U.S. companies. At that time China and South Africa produced EMM at $1.30/lb, but the price in the U.S. was $1.80/lb with the 14% import duty. American Manganese’s recent entry onto the scene of EMM suppliers is great news for companies like Tesla and GM. The mining company describes itselfas focused on becoming the lowest cost producer of EMM.
They might meet that goal, too- since a Preliminary Economic Assessment 2009 study completed for American Manganese estimated cost per pound of EMM production at just $0.44!
The American mining company also provides a product with a reduced environmental impact. Just last year, the company received a patent for its manganese recovery process. With this unique process, the company is able to recover manganese from a low-grade resource with significantly less energy and lower water use than conventional processing methods. The mining process also ends up with benign toxicity in tailings, which can be replaced immediately into reclamation areas. Because American Manganese can supply Tesla with a low-cost, greener, and objectively cheaper EMM supply, it would be surprising if the company didn’t become Tesla’s raw materials supplier, and this may make Arizona even more attractive to the car manufacturer, despite the State’s political leanings.
Arizona already proposed a bill to legalize direct sales of Tesla electric cars and the City of Tuscon has submitted a formal proposal to Tesla to become the host site. What more can Arizona do to win Elon Musk’s love?
Maybe its time for Musk to let his other courters — Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas — down easy.