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Cobalt shortage really an issue?

Discussion in 'TSLA Investor Discussions' started by travwill, Dec 1, 2016.

  1. travwill

    travwill Active Member

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  2. Atlantis

    Atlantis Member

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    Hum...Well, I only see this as one more reason to bring here to Portugal the Gigafactory 2, more specifically in Alentejo region, where there is the Iberian Pyrite Belt, with mines of copper (useful for Tesla AC engines) with a lot of cobaltite associated. Then, with at a few hundreds kilometres from there, there is too one of the most promising lithium deposits (to begin to be explored in 2018) at Guarda, so... :)
     
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  3. neroden

    neroden Happy Model S Owner

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    Cobalt is an issue. However, Tesla has a specif ic executive whose job it is to locate mineral resources, so I'm pretty sure they've got it f igured out. They've also apparently been redesigning the batteries to cut cobalt usage
     
  4. 3Victoria

    3Victoria Active Member

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    Other's batteries use more, advantage Tesla.
     
  5. stopcrazypp

    stopcrazypp Well-Known Member

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    The article was written by John Petersen who had been fear mongering about Tesla since a long time and had been completely wrong throughout. There's a whole thread on him here:
    Nonsense from John Petersen

    As pointed out by others, Tesla's NCA chemistry uses significantly less cobalt than other chemistries (less than half of that used in the NMC like in the Bolt).
     
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  6. Ben W

    Ben W P85 #61, Roadster #108

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    #6 Ben W, Dec 2, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2016
    John Peterson scaremongering, refuted in one graph:

    cobalt_graph.png

    FWIW, the wholesale cost of the ~8kg of cobalt in a Tesla 85kWh battery pack is currently about $240, or approximately 1% of the retail cost of the pack. This spot price could probably double or triple (though I suspect it won't) before it were to significantly affect Tesla's business model. And as noted, Tesla is working on newer battery chemistries that require less cobalt per kWh.

    In the long run, and in stark contrast to oil, cobalt is fully recyclable. Worn-out batteries should eventually provide a pretty decent supply of cobalt to supplement the freshly-mined sources.

    And finally, each Tesla S/X requires about 70kg of copper (for the rotor and various wiring) and about 40kg of nickel (for the batteries). Hmm, I'll be darned what the by-product of mining all that copper and nickel is.
     
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  7. wdolson

    wdolson Supporting Member

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    One of the world's largest untapped cobalt reserves are in Cuba. I think they are #2 or #3 in cobalt still in the ground. The Congo is #1 in both production and cobalt reserves, but it's not a very stable country and there are concerns about the human rights violations in the mines.

    Like lithium, there isn't a huge shortage of cobalt, but there is a bit of a shortage in supply to the market right now. Cobalt is somewhat rarer overall though.

    The Canadian nickel mines do produce some cobalt along with the nickel. They also produce some platinum. I don't know about other nickel mines around the world.

    For all these materials needed for batteries, there is a huge demand for materials as the industry expands, but once it reaches stability, the requirements will be reduced to sustenance levels. Recycling will recover a lot of material, but there will be losses and the need will expand slowly after stabilization, so there will be some ongoing need, but much less than over the next few decades.

    The iron industry in the American "Rust Belt" was a booming business when the US car industry was expanding, but the US doesn't have anywhere near as big a steel industry today, most steel mills have closed down. The name Rust Belt came about because of the industrial implosion in that region. A lot of cars are still made in the US Midwest, but not a lot of new steel comes out of the region anymore.

    A lot of steel that goes into cars today is recycled. The Japanese started the process. Back in the 70s they were buying every junk yard car they could to ship to Japan for recycling into their new cars. It is a lot cheaper to recycle steel than mine iron ore and make new steel.
     
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  8. Ben W

    Ben W P85 #61, Roadster #108

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    Digression: One of the most interesting cases of recycled materials is Lead. Natural lead deposits invariably contain some amount of uranium, which decays into Lead-210, a radioactive isotope with a half-life of 22 years. It's straightforward enough to process the lead to remove the uranium, but further separating the radioactive lead isotopes from the stable ones is inordinately difficult and uneconomical.

    For some applications though, particularly for high-energy physics experiments, the only material that will work for shielding is non-radioactive lead. And the only way to obtain non-radioactive lead is to find lead that was purified a long time ago, long enough (hundreds of years) that nearly all the radioactive isotopes have decayed. Ancient Roman shipwrecks are the most typical source of such material, though there is argument over whether those shipwrecks should be preserved as cultural artifacts.

    One wonders whether something similar might happen with first-generation Tesla batteries. Should they be recycled for their raw materials, or preserved as priceless historical artifacts? :D Only time will tell!
     
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  9. MP3Mike

    MP3Mike Active Member

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    Elon has already said that they plan to have facilities in the Gigafactory to grind up and recycle the Tesla battery packs when they are no longer useful. The point being that once you get enough of them on the road you won't need to purchase raw materials anymore, you just recycle the old packs into new packs. (That is assuming that you get to a point where there is no net increase in the number of Teslas on the road.)
     
  10. wdolson

    wdolson Supporting Member

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    A similar issue exists with steel. Some scientific instruments need radiation free iron and most iron refined or recycled after 1945 have absorbed radioactive byproducts from the atmosphere. People are illegally mining World War II wrecks off the coast of Java for the pre-nuclear age steel. It's a bit of a diplomatic problem because the wrecks that are disappearing are still owned by the Dutch government and they are internationally recognized as grave sites.

    We will probably never get to a point where all batteries are made from recycled materials, but there will be a point where the need for new materials is pretty small compared to what is being recycled.
     
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