First Cobalt company downplays Elon Musk's cobalt-free batteries
First Cobalt describes itself as a North American pure-play cobalt company with a dedicated refinery in Ontario, Canada.
Yesterday Musk announced several technical developments to advance battery technology at Tesla. First Cobalt CEO Trent Mell said cobalt is a crucial component of battery chemistry.
"Despite years of trying to remove cobalt from batteries, it has proven to be a formidable challenge owing to its importance in keeping batteries safe and extending the life of cells," said Mell in a news release.
"Battery manufacturers have instead opted to lower the amount of cobalt in a cell to decrease the cost while preserving the integrity of the battery. This is the battery evolution trend almost all market experts are predicting, with the nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM) cathode remaining the dominant chemistry."
Mell added that most of Tesla's competitors are developing their electrification plans on the basis of NCM battery technologies.
In a research note, BMO said dropping cobalt could reduce costs substantially, calling the change Musk's most important announcement during Battery Day.
"From a commodities perspective, the most important announcement was the commitment to achieve a high-nickel cathode that will contain zero-cobalt and instead contain 2/3 nickel and 1/3 manganese, possibly with aluminium, which would make it an NMA formulation. While capacity issues seem to occur in all high-nickel formulations, this next generation cathode could lead to a 4% vehicle range increase while reducing costs and investment per GWH by 5% and 16% respectively, although no timeline was given for when this technology will be finalised," BMO Capital Research said in a note published Wednesday.