Ford Secures Nickel Supplies with $4.5 Billion Investment


Ford announced it has partnered with two entities to construct a nickel processing facility in Indonesia.

Primarily focusing on lithium, cobalt and nickel, automakers around the globe are looking to establish affordable and dependable sources of materials as they look to ramp up their EV production in the coming years. Ford has done just that by signing on to the $4.5 billion facility.

The upcoming nickel processing facility, to be built with funds from Ford, Chinese material processor Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt, and mining company PT Vale Indonesia, has already entered construction and is set to enter commercial operation sometime in 2026. The facility is strategically placed near PT Vale’s nickel mining operation on the island of Sulawesi.

Nickel will be processed at the facility using the High-Pressure Acid Leaking (HPAC) method and could eventually supply two Ford battery production locations in the U.S. Both would require the processed material once they become operational as well.

“This framework gives Ford direct control to source the nickel we need---in one of the industry’s lowest-cost ways---and allows us to ensure the nickel is mined in line with our company’s sustainability targets, setting the right ESG standards as we scale,” said Lisa Drake, VP of Ford Model e EV industrialization. “Working this way puts Ford in a position to help make EVs more accessible for millions and to do it in a way that helps better protect people and the planet.”

Lithium-ion batteries and other EV components are still highly dependent on nickel, unlike cobalt and numerous rare earth elements, which automakers are looking to distance themselves from. As automakers look to move away from the more controversial rare earth elements, nickel supplies will likely only become increasingly important.

Ford’s nickel deal comes as numerous other automakers are also working their way down the supply chain, hoping to save costs and increase supply dependability in the wake of the pandemic. Countless rumors have surrounded Tesla acquiring mining companies, particularly in Brazil, while even more conservative auto giants like Mercedes-Benz are reportedly considering entering the mining business as well.

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