Mining and commodities giant Glencore is looking to add lithium to the suite of metals it trades, as the battery metal has become the driving force behind electric vehicles (EVs) and concerns over lack of supply continue to grow.
The Swiss company would initially include lithium in its zinc and copper business, run by Jyothish George and Nick Popovic, two unnamed sources told Reuters.
Glencore does not own lithium mines, but has ventured into the metal recycling business this year. In February, it joined forces with battery start-up Britishvolt to build a new recycling plant for lithium-ion batteries in England.
Less than three months later, the firm announced a $200 million investment in Canada’s Li-Cycle Holdings.
Glencore has a strong foothold in other battery metals, producing cobalt, nickel and copper, as the global push toward a greener future is firing up demand for such metals, often called “commodities of the future.”
It has also embarked on the business of recycling these metals, partnering up in late January with Moroccan mining company Managem. Together they will produce cobalt from recycled battery materials at a plant near Marrakech.
A month later, Glencore announced it would expand its Britannia Refined Metals plant in southern England, which has historically been a leading re-user of lead-acid batteries found in combustion-powered cars.
Lithium prices have soared this year to record highs as the amount of the metal used has almost quadrupled over the last decade. But the process for extracting lithium, and a relative lack of investment, have yet to catch up with the rising demand.
Extracting lithium involves either mining the ore and then separating the metal or pumping underground water deposits to the surface and then extracting the metal from evaporation pools.