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South32 eyes EV battery market

South32's Cannington mine, Australia.

The Australian mining company is eyeing up the electric vehicle battery market after an increase in profits

After recently reporting significant profits, Australian miner South32 has now announced plans to expand its supply of minerals to the EV battery market. The firm has large silver, lead and nickel resources, which are key to developing the batteries.

It is prepared to supply a variety of metals to electric car companies. During a conference call with media last week, chief executive Graham Kerr said it is “looking to add more base metals exposure to the group… We do see battery technology having an impact over time”.

South32, a spin-off from mining giant BHP Billiton, currently mines coal, manganese ore, bauxite, nickel, silver and lead across Australia, South Africa and Latin America.

Kerr also confirmed that South32 has no plans to expand in the coal mining sector: “We’ve been quite open that energy coal is probably not something we want to grow in.”

Kerr’s mention of greater “base metals exposure” suggests that entering the EV battery market is a key strategy for South32, shoring up its supply for the requisite minerals.

As EV usage grows, demand for the metals South32 mines will inevitably expand and could thus provide a significant revenue stream for the company.

Kerr also drew attention to some potentially untapped markets: “The reality is there is a large amount of lithium supply that exists in South America that’s not activated today and a large number of producers that sit on a lot of idle capacity,” he said.


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