Everyone has heard about Tesla’s $5 Billion Gigafactory and its potential to double lithium-ion battery production capacity. However, it turns out that this merely a cog in the wheel of a bigger trend. Data from Simon Moores of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence shows that there are several other large-scale facilities coming online in the next five years that will potentially bring that number substantially higher.
Today’s production capacity is approximately 35 GWh worldwide. However, once Tesla’s Gigafactory and the other facilities being built by LG Chem, Foxconn, BYD, and Boston Power are complete, we will have a total capacity in 2020 of around 122 GWh. This exponential ramping up of production capabilities proves that companies are serious about scale and reducing costs.
For investors and speculators in the lithium, graphite, and cobalt sectors, there is no doubt that this could be a big boon. While these megafactories will have more negotiating power in their contracts for industrial metal sourcing, they will not be able to create this supply out of thin air.
These companies will need a diverse array of sources for industrial metals to reduce any supply risks. The sources also need to be socially responsible, ethical, and professionally managed. Tesla has already stated that they are unwilling to source from places like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where over half of cobalt supply originates.
This creates an interesting dynamic and playing field for the mining companies in this space, and it will be worth watching as battery production ramps up in the coming years.