Sustainability is common vocabulary today. And with good reason. This word has infiltrated our days, habits, holidays, mindsets and touches everything we do. Whether it’s careful and deliberate consideration or subtly influencing our choices without conscious awareness, the shift is real. It’s clear the world is calling for more sustainability and now we are turning to shake up the industrial world.
Consumers are insisting on a sustainable future, which includes ethical supply chain, manufacturing and distribution practices. At the beginning of the production process lies the procurement of raw materials. Every aspect of creation can benefit from an infusion of sustainability. And the demand isn’t just coming from consumers, it’s also global leaders that are urging for the same.;
As Elon Musk shared in a recent speech, “Go for efficiency, obviously environmentally-friendly nickel mining at high volume. Tesla will give you a giant contract for a long period of time, if you mine nickel efficiently and in an environmentally sensitive way. So hopefully this message goes out to all mining companies. Please get nickel.” When Elon speaks, the world listens.
The mandate is crystal clear. Not just the what but the how we do it. We all know that change is necessary, but sometimes the words of a respected thought leader serve as a stronger catalyst. Today the major nickel players are Canada, Australia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Democratic Republic of Congo, China and New Caledonia. Seeing how they respond to raise the bar on sustainability will be an important pivot. But let’s take a step back and examine why we need more nickel in the first place.
We are innovating and expecting a rise in electric vehicles. Running on rechargeable batteries is a great alternative to the petroleum industry. We know that there’s still work to be done in the creation and recycling of electrical batteries from a sustainability standpoint, but improvements are being made. Batteries require a different type of raw material sourcing - nickel, cobalt or manganese. Ensuring sufficient supply to match future demand is crucial.
We realize that electric power is better environmentally, but how do we source raw materials with an ethical mandate? Sustainability extends into economic and social impacts too. We also need to address labour laws and human rights aspects of mining. Increased visibility into operations, traceability and consumer watchdogs will bring these topics to the forefront.
Today the London Metal Exchange is responsible to establish prices for mining products. Now they are imposing policies to favour ethically sourced materials. It means that the price of nickel increases when sustainable practices are used and the burden of proof lies with the supply chain for quality and ethical process assurance.
In New Caledonia, the first quarter of 2020 shows an increase in cobalt production by 61% for the southern plant. Metallurgical production of all smelting products is also up by 11% excluding cobalt compared to the same period last year. It validates the current state of affairs to see an alignment between exploration and forecasted demands that wasn't impacted by the global pandemic.
The 21st century is where sustainable transformation is here to stay. Consumers are taking the lead to drive the changes they want to see. Moving forward ethics and traceability will play a bigger role in valuation, demand and consumption. We have a long way to go on this journey towards sustainability and it requires a massive collaborative effort, but as we all know Rome wasn’t built in a day. So let’s get going.
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Brand storyteller in more than just one language. She writes moving human stories and translates technical topics so they're easy to understand. Pretty nifty. She considers business is about building trust and long-lasting relationships. She gets jumpy if she doesn't get at least 3 weekly hours of sport, running, yoga, kitesurfing, - you name it!