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CMA Australia & CMA UK: Bridging the Gap Between Miners and OEMs


“It is imperative we build processing capacity outside of China”.


The CMA Australia held its first webinar in collaboration with the CMA UK, focusing on bridging the existing gap between miners and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). The discussion centred around the potential to build integrated critical mineral supply chains between the two nations.


Panellists:

- John Walker, CEO, Tees Valley Lithium

- Michael Naylor, CEO, EV Metals Group

- Stephen Grocott, CEO, Queensland Pacific Metals

- Quentin Willson (former Fifth Gear host and automotive journalist)


The discussion was moderated by Namali Mackay, MD of CMA Australia, and Jeff Townsend, Founder & CEO of CMA UK, Founder and Director of CMA Australia.

 

Watch the Webinar Below


 

Quentin kick-started the discussion with an overview of the increasing demand for electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK, “plug-in vehicle penetration into the UK market sits at sixteen per cent, up from one per cent in 2011”, emphasising the need for stable, secure, and transparent supply chains for lithium, and other battery materials, that are integral to nations’ vehicle electrification targets.


Ownership versus leasing

Growing consumer demand for EVs will drive the viability of integrated, global critical mineral supply chains. The panellists echoed that education to combat range anxiety and misconceptions around EVs is necessary to increase ownership of EVs and encourage the switch from petrol vehicles. A member of the audience challenged this, suggesting leasing as the optimal approach to assist with end-of-life including recycling of batteries and magnets. Quentin pointed out the existing market for batteries and their value. It should be noted that the UK does not currently have EV battery recycling capacity. Many early EVs will be reaching end-of-life at the end of this decade.


John noted the tax benefits of leasing EVs in the UK, saving consumers circa thousand pounds per annum in comparison to combustion engine vehicles. He also expressed his desire for “the government to provide further grants for electric vehicles, thereby creating the impetus for consumers to go out and purchase one”.


Reinventing global supply chains

Jeff outlined how geopolitically aligned nations can encourage their populations to adopt EVs. There is scope for Australia’s critical minerals (upstream) to feed the UK’s manufacturing sector (downstream) and to create supply chains that “are secure and do not cause undue damage to the planet”. However, the visible gap is the midstream processing and refining of critical minerals.

Michael commented, “while there is a great opportunity for the UK and Australia to develop an integrated supply chain, banks will not provide lending for the exploration and extraction of lithium without offtake agreements. This illustrates the strategic importance of the midstream. It is imperative we build processing capacity outside of China”.

There was concern amongst the panellist about how China has come to dominate critical minerals supply chains. Michael highlighted the risk of structural deficits in the global lithium supply. He suggested collaboration between industry and governments to “shape policy, which will help them understand how they can shape global capital markets and invest in the geopolitical alignment of supply chains”.

Stephen added: “There is a massive market failure here and that is why China is so dominant. In terms of nickel, car manufacturers in Europe are obtaining supply from Indonesia due to the lack of midstream capacity. They try to rationalise this; however, to rationalise is to tell rational lies as we know Indonesia’s mining practices are disgraceful and the country’s supply chains are inextricably linked to China”.


Q&A: Solutions to our supply chain problems

“What can industry do separate from government?” This question prompted panellists to consider the appropriate measures to counterbalance China’s present dominance of critical mineral supply chains. John postulated that “to ensure the government adequately understands global supply chains, industry needs to take the time to educate civil servants and politicians in order to bridge the knowledge gap”.

Stephen went further, arguing for the education of opposition parties, “We all live in democracies. We need our governments to understand that this is an electron cycle, not an election cycle. If we educate opposition parties, governments can then take strategic, long-term and courageous steps which may not be beneficial to their political fortunes”.

In the words of Quentin Willson, “In one hour we have had tremendous consensus. We have also been enlightened as to the potential for collaboration in regard to electrification and pollution reduction. We can achieve this through a plan for government and industry; it is not too late to challenge the Chinese monopoly if we start now”.


It will be actions that will determine our future.


 

John Walker

John has more than 30 years of leadership experience in the mining and advanced materials processing industries. Most recently he has been providing strategic advice to lithium mining and refining projects in the USA and UK and working as Chairman of Exawatt who provide strategic consultancy services to the battery industry.

Prior to this he served as CEO of The Quartz Corp (a joint venture between IMERYS and Norsk Mineral), a mining and processing company that supplies the world’s highest-purity quartz to the solar, semiconductor and fibreoptic markets. John was a key player in driving TQC’s business development, growing the company from a new entrant to the second-largest player in the high-purity quartz market.



Michael Naylor

John has more than 30 years of leadership experience in the mining and advanced materials processing industries. Most recently he has been providing strategic advice to lithium mining and refining projects in the USA and UK and working as Chairman of Exawatt who provide strategic consultancy services to the battery industry.

Prior to this he served as CEO of The Quartz Corp (a joint venture between IMERYS and Norsk Mineral), a mining and processing company that supplies the world’s highest-purity quartz to the solar, semiconductor and fibreoptic markets. John was a key player in driving TQC’s business development, growing the company from a new entrant to the second-largest player in the high-purity quartz market.



Quentin Willson

Quentin Willson is an English TV presenter, motoring journalist, author, TV producer and former car dealer, perhaps most widely known as a presenter of the motoring programmes Britain's Worst Driver, Fifth Gear, and the original incarnation of Top Gear.








Stephen Grocott

Stephen was Chief Technical Development Officer at Clean TeQ Holdings Limited accountable for all technical and process development. He also supported technical marketing, due diligence and project funding for the A$2 Billion Sunrise Ni-Co-Sc Project in NSW. Stephen’s exposure to EV and battery producers combined with his world-class expertise in process and development for minerals processing and battery chemicals underpins the progress of the company.



Summary by Sam Howard, Intern, CMA UK.

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