Glencore, a mining conglomerate, is putting money into Britishvolt, the startup behind Gigafactory plant. Glencore is also going to supply the cobalt that Gigafactory will use to make the batteries.
Britishvolt is constructing its Gigafactory in Northumberland. The project is valued at £ 2.6bn and is expected to boost the UK’s electric vehicle industry. It will also help the government attain its zero-emission targets.
How much Glencore has invested in Britishvolt is not revealed but it is reportedly the largest investment in the startup. There are other backers from the Middle East and Scandinavia. The mining company will supply 30 percent of all the cobalt that Britishvolt will use between 2024 and 2030.
According to Britishvolt’s founder and chief executive, Orral Nadjari, Glencore’s investment is a major milestone.
“From Britishvolt’s perspective this is a major milestone, securing responsibly produced raw materials to help de-risk the project. If you look at global cobalt production two players stand out Glencore and the Chinese.”
Glencore is the largest producer of cobalt and is a supplier to Tesla and BMW. It operates mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Australia. The company is working with Tesla to create a blockchain platform that will track the ethical mining of rare earth metals in Congo.
In what is a victory for renewable energy, Britishvolt is building its Gigafactory on the site of a decommissioned coal power plant in the town of Blyth. It will initially employ a thousand people and increase to 3,000 when the plant is working at full capacity, a boost that the area needs financially.
The 93-hectare site was selected because of its proximity to the deep sea and its connection to the electricity grid. Yearly production from the finished plant is aimed at 30 GWh or about 300,000 battery packs. Production is expected to start in 2023.
Apart from Britishvolt, five other companies are planning to build battery plants in the UK but Britishvolt and Nissan are at the most advanced stages. Their batteries will likely find their way into Land Rover and Mini models that are produced in the UK.