Tesla's battery maker suspends cobalt supplier amid sanctions concern


Elon Musk speaks at Boring Company community meeting in Bel Air, Los Angeles, California, May 17, 2018.
Panasonic said it was unable to tell how much cobalt sourced from Cuba via its Canadian supplier ended up in the batteries it provided to the U.S. market “due to co-mingling of sources by its suppliers in several phases of manufacturing processes.”
She added that Panasonic had used cobalt from the Canadian supplier for batteries used in the Tesla Model S and Model X, but only after February this year.
The United States imposed sanctions on Cuba after Fidel Castro nationalized swathes of American assets more than 50 years ago.
Tesla, when asked for comment by Reuters, did not address questions about whether its batteries contained Cuban cobalt or whether that could potentially put the company in breach of sanctions.
A spokesman said: “Tesla is aiming to achieve close to zero usage of cobalt in the near future.”
The electric vehicle maker, run by billionaire Elon Musk , said in May that it had been working for years to reduce the amount of cobalt it uses in its batteries.
“We don’t respond to questions about specific client activities,” Sherritt’s spokesman Joe Racanelli said.
Reuters was unable to determine what proportion of the cobalt used in Panasonic’s batteries made for Tesla came from Sherritt.
When asked about a potential cobalt supply crunch, a Panasonic spokeswoman said, after the Reuters report, that the company “will secure its demand of cobalt from existing and new sources”.
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