Bbg: KSA Investing Heavily in EVs, Batteries

Bloomberg headline: Saudi Arabia’s EV Battery Bets Are a Warning

Sub-headline: Apart from China, no country has managed to achieve manufacturing scale. That may be about to change.

The world’s oil capital wants to go electric and get clean. To do so, it’s getting its hands on minerals critical for batteries and taking a stake in the electric vehicle-supply chain. That should put countries and companies prone to announcing ambitious plans but then doing little to make them a reality on high alert.

As shortages loom and firms attempt to secure prohibitively expensive resources in a bid to scale up manufacturing, Saudi Arabia has drawn in lithium miners and battery makers to set up operations, filling a critical gap. The country wants 30% of cars on its capital city’s roads to be electric by the end of this decade.

Australian battery chemicals and technology company EV Metals Group Plc said it was kicking off the development of its processing plants for lithium hydroxide monohydrate — a key compound for batteries — deepening its plans in the kingdom. The firm has worked with its partners for the past two years on feasibility studies, and the facility now plans to produce high-grade chemicals for cathode materials in powerpacks, an important component that EV makers are trying to get their hands on. Another Australian firm, Avass Group, announced it signed an agreement in February to jointly manufacture electric vehicles and lithium batteries with the country.

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Saudi Arabia’s advance into battery materials, as shortages raise costs and companies’ battle tightening green regulations to get ahead, is turning what stands to be a huge threat to its economy into a long-term benefit.

It’s almost too late for the US and parts of Europe to catch up. Other places in the Middle East are also looking to make the transition away from their economic reliance on oil toward greener technology. Abu Dhabi recently drew in a lithium firm to build facilities at the Khalifa Industrial Zone to extract the metal and recover valuable by-products from lithium-mica and phosphate minerals.

It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, if firms and nations soon end up swapping their dependence on Saudi Arabian oil for critical battery materials, much like they’ve had to do with China.

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