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everything you need to know about Elon Musk’s new favorite mineral

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In a recent post-earnings call this week with stockholders, CEO Elon Musk issued a plea to “any mining companies in the world”: While in many instances, Musk is eager to stand apart from the rest of the world’s car manufacturers, here they likely stand shoulder to shoulder.

As Tesla continues onward in its world-beating path of global domination, the company needs more resources. In a recent post-earnings call this week with stockholders, CEO Elon Musk issued a plea to “any mining companies in the world”:

While in many instances, Musk is eager to stand apart from the rest of the world’s car manufacturers, here they likely stand shoulder to shoulder. Nickel is heavily used in electric car batteries, and research firm Wood Mackenzie that demand for the mineral will increase by 64 percent between 2019 and 2025.

But Musk’s call is a tough one: The industry, as Wood Mackenzie notes, is slow to add capacity. It’s also expensive. At its current pricing, around $13,000 a ton, nickel is actually a bargain at the moment. Let’s break down the challenges that Musk and the rest of the EV world will have in getting more of this precious mineral.

What is nickel? Nickel is a naturally occurring mineral that humanity has interacted with for several millennia. Some historians that artisans in Syria over 2,000 years ago used the mineral as an alloy to strengthen their pieces, but it was into the scientific world in 1751 by Swedish chemist Axel Fredrik Cronstedt. At the time, copper was among the most valuable minerals in the world, and Cronstedt gave this new mineral the name “Kupfernickel,” or Devil’s Copper, declaring it a sort of Fool’s Gold.

The Nickel Institute, a trade organization that represents nickel mining operations around the world, that there are around 300 million tons of nickel around the world. That would make it the fifth-most common mineral in the world.

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