EV battery becomes latest weapon in US-China trade war

With the value of the EV battery market projected to reach $133.5bn by 2027, it was surely only a matter of time before  rechargeable – and recyclable – batteries were dragged into the increasingly bad-tempered US-China trade war. In his determination to wean the US off its reliance on Chinese-dominated supply chains, President Trump has now given the US International Development Finance Corporation  (DFC) the go-ahead to invest $25m in London-based mining investment companyTechMet. Set up in 2017 by Brian Menell, the scion of a South African mining dynasty, TechMet specialises in securing access to critical elements of the  technology metal supply chain by acquiring controlling or significant minority shares in a range of battery recycling, rare earth and other mining concerns.
The DFC funds will be used to develop a cobalt and nickel mine in Piaui in north-eastern Brazil. Both minerals are key components in many secondary battery designs. “This important financing will support economic growth in one of Brazil’s most underdeveloped areas,” said DFC CEO Adam Boehler. “Investments in critical materials for advanced technology support development and advance US foreign policy,” he added.
The announcement comes just a week after Trump described the US’s reliance on foreign supplies of critical minerals as “a national emergency” and a year after he set up the DFC  to provide an alternative to Chinese overseas finance in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
In line with its recent pledge to eliminate carbon emissions by 2060, China envisages EVs accounting for 20% of all car and truck sales by 2025. Today, China  controls nearly 70% of global EV battery manufacturing capacity, while North America commands less than 10%.