While car companies have been big customers of lithium and copper, there are signs emerging that they’re becoming increasingly involved in upstream mining.

Reuters, reporting on increasing Scandinavian interest in lithium mines in South America, reported that not only are auto manufacturers seeking to tie-up long-term supply deals but be more involved at the project level.

“There are many companies that are interested in lithium and buying lithium, and there are also other Swedish companies that are suppliers of mines that are very interested in helping to make the mines more sustainable,” Swedish state secretary to the Minister for Foreign Trade, Nikals Johnansson, told Reuters.

Sweden, which is home to Volvo, is making a push to secure more minerals vital to the growth of electric vehicles — such as lithium and copper.

Lithium is an essential ingredient in lithium-ion batteries which increasing amounts of copper are needed to relay the electricity produced by the batteries around the car.

While lithium prices are currently riding low as the result of an oversupply in the market, Sweden’s moves in South America are a sign that both government and private auto manufacturers are taking a long-term view.

“What you see in Sweden, Germany, in many countries now is how we are going out to obtain the materials and minerals needed for the future of electrification,” Johansson said. 

“This is not only lithium, but also copper, which is very important in Peru.”

Even the likes of Elon Musk are starting to talk about getting into the mining game.

In what was largely an off-hand comment during an investment call last month, Musk talked about the company’s potential mining dreams during Tesla’s annual presentation to shareholders.

“We might get into the mining business. I don’t know,” Musk was quoted as saying. “We’ll do whatever we have to to ensure that we can scale at the fastest rate possible.”


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