California-based electric-vehicle maker Tesla Motors may have struck a deal to secure much of North America's lithium supply in advance of the build-out of its Gigafactory in Nevada. Then again, maybe the company didn't. Here's the story.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Tesla has secured a long-term contract with Bacanora Minerals Ltd. and Rare Earth Minerals Plc. The partnership between those latter two companies is called Sonora Lithium Project Partners because it will extract its resources from northern Mexico. Bacanora has verified that agreement with a press release. The trouble is that there are multiple companies with names like Rare Earth Minerals. This is why US Rare Earth Minerals, Inc. had to issue a statement denying any such agreement. US Rare Earth Materials says it has "no agreements of any kind with Tesla Motors," and that "we are not currently engaged in the specific mining and sale of Lithium."
But Bacanora, in an August 28 statement, said the partnership will have an initial capacity of extracting about 35,000 tons of lithium compounds a year, and that number will eventually jump to 50,000 tons. A Tesla representative declined to comment to AutoblogGreen but did refer to the Bacanora press release that announces the partnership.
Lithium supply is considered key to Tesla's expansion because it is counting on its giant Gigafactory near Reno, Nevada, to enable the automaker to cut its lithium-ion battery costs by as much as 30 percent. The first phase of the $5-billion plant is slated to open next year. Check out Bacanora's press release here and Rare Earth Mineral's rebuttal of that statement here.