Glencore invests in £4bn British battery project

Britishvolt, a Northumberland-based technology firm that is building a giant battery factory to support the production of electric vehicles, received a boost on Tuesday as one of the largest mining companies in the world agreed to back its business. 

Glencore said it had made an investment in Britishvolt’s £4bn project for an undisclosed amount, and would supply the company with cobalt to fuel its battery factory.

Cobalt is a mineral found in places such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia. It is an important component of batteries in both electric vehicles and mobile phones.

The boom in demand for electric vehicles has seen battery metals such as copper, nickel, and cobalt shoot up in price, benefitting the likes of Glencore which control much of the world’s supply.

“This is a huge step in the right direction for Britishvolt as we look to accelerate the transition to a low carbon society,” said Britishvolt chief executive, Orral Nadjari. “By partnering with Glencore, we are locking in supply and derisking the project.”

The UK’s first so-called battery gigaplant could create as many as 3,000 jobs at the site of a demolished coal-fired power station in Northumberland.

Britishvolt had previously announced plans to produce lithium-ion batteries for electric cars in the Vale of Glamorgan, only for differences over timescales with local authorities to scupper the project.

But the company said last year that it had secured the 95-hectare former power station site in Blyth and was about to submit its planning application with the support of the local county council’s development arm and MP.

Britishvolt said it hoped to break ground next summer and begin battery production in 2023 using renewable energy.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Britishvolt, a pioneer in UK electric vehicle battery technology and production,” said David Brocas, head cobalt trader at Glencore. “The UK has a unique legacy of automotive innovation and Britishvolt’s ambition to power the next generation of mobility will add to this rich history.”

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