LONDON – Surging demand for metals like copper, nickel and cobalt for use in electric vehicles promises to overturn the balance of power between mining companies and their customers, according to billionaire investor Robert Friedland.
Automakers will have to change the way they approach procurement if they want to power their vehicles, said Friedland, who as a student befriended Steve Jobs before a career backing major discoveries from Canada to Mongolia.
“Coming soon to a theater near you: this is the revenge of the miner,” said Friedland. “No miner is willing to sell a high-volatility metal to a car manufacturer at a fixed price.”
Friedland’s Ivanhoe Mines is developing a large copper deposit in the Democratic Republic of Congo and a platinum project in South Africa. He’s also co-chairman of Clean Teq Holdings, which has a nickel and cobalt sulphate project in Australia. Both metals are used in rechargeable-battery technologies and have surged this year on expectations for rising demand.
"Nickel sulphate and cobalt sulphate: these are the sexy commodities that we cannot live without," Friedland said. While demand for coal and iron ore will stagnate, copper usage will continue to rise to meet environmental standards and reduce pollution, he said.