​Canadian miner answers Elon Musk’s plea for sustainable nickel

A tiny Canadian company is taking Elon Musk up on his offer to efficiently mine nickel, betting it can be done carbon free.

Toronto-based Canada Nickel Co. said it’s looking into building a facility that will process zero-carbon nickel just days after the Tesla Inc. boss pledged a “giant” contract to miners that produce the critical battery metal in an “environmentally sensitive” manner.

“The electric vehicle chain and broader market in general is crying out for zero-carbon product,” Canada Nickel chief executive officer Mark Selby said by telephone.

The estimated $1 billion facility would be developed in the Timmins-Cochrane region of northern Ontario, exploiting its proximity to hydroelectric power to reduce emissions. The company is also exploring using serpentine rock, which naturally absorbs carbon dioxide when exposed to air.

Mining companies are under increased scrutiny to employ environmentally-friendly practices. Nickel is a key component for the cathodes of electric-vehicle batteries and could face a shortage as soon as 2023, according to BloombergNEF. Prices rose the most in almost a year after Musk’s plea to mine more.

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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