8/13/2019 | 1 MINUTE READ

Platinum Suppliers Target EV Batteries

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Anglo American Platinum Ltd., the world’s largest supplier of platinum and palladium, is teaming up with mining giant Platinum Group Metals to develop next-generation batteries for electric vehicles.

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Anglo American Platinum Ltd., the world’s largest supplier of platinum and palladium, is teaming up with mining giant Platinum Group Metals to develop next-generation batteries with the precious metals for electric vehicles.

Bloomberg News reports that the companies are investing about $4 million in the program and hope to have a working prototype ready within five years. Such applications would create a new market for platinum and palladium as EVs begin to displace conventionally powered vehicles that use the pricey materials in catalytic converters to curb tailpipe emissions.

Using platinum and palladium in place of cobalt and nickel in lithium-ion batteries could provide performance and weight benefits. But analysts caution that manufacturing and integration issues need to be resolved before platinum group metals become a viable alternative in EV batteries.

Battery suppliers are working to reduce or replace cobalt as increasing demand has pushed prices for the material to record highs. Half the world’s supply comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where mining is plagued by hazardous conditions, child labor and an unstable government.

But analysts are skeptical about using precious metals as substitutes. Despite recent price decreases, platinum ($860 per oz.) and palladium ($1,460/oz) are far more expensive than nickel and cobalt. South Africa is the primary source for both platinum group metals.