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Tesla reducing dependence on China with graphite deal

Elon Musk’s Tesla has signed a deal to get a key component for electric car batteries outside of China, in an apparent effort to reduce dependence on the Asian nation for graphite.
The car maker is now in business with Australia’s Syrah Resources, which operates a graphite mine in Balama, Mozambique. Graphite is critical for lithium-ion batteries, and Tesla will be buying plenty of it as the agreement signed last month states the Austin, Texas-based company will be buying up to 80% of what Syrah Resources produces. That equates to around 8,000 tons of graphite from their mine beginning in 2025, according to the Associated Press, which first reported the news.
Some market analysts have viewed Tesla’s latest deal as a sign of an overall push to produce its own batteries within the US. Today, China leads the global graphite market.
“The US wants to build enough capacity domestically to be able to build [lithium-ion batteries] within the USA. And this deal will permit Tesla to source graphite independent from China,” Simon Moores of United Kingdom-based battery materials data and intelligence provider, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, told AP.
Graphite is one of many materials that has been in short supply in recent months, but demand has continued to rise as car manufacturers increase their investments in electric vehicles. Tesla itself produces approximately one million cars a year, meaning it is constantly in need of graphite.
The graphite Tesla plans to purchase will be processed in Louisiana, bringing the material closer to home and cutting down on potential supply-chain issues, which have been ramped by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tesla has been open about its overall effort to move more components of their production to within the US in the near future. The company was among multiple car manufacturers to ask the US government to waive tariffs on a range of products needed from China. Syrah will supply graphite for an initial four years, and they will be the first US-based source of graphite anodes for car and battery producers.
“Our goal is to localize all key parts of the vehicles on the continent,” Drew Baglino, senior vice president of Powertrain and Energy Engineering at Tesla, said in October during an earnings call.

China’s digital yuan notches $8.3 billion in transactions in 6 months, taking a tiny share of payments
BEIJING — In a country where consumer payments are measured in the trillions, China’s digital yuan has made little headway, according to 2021 figures released by the central bank on Tuesday.
The People’s Bank of China began conducting trials of the digital yuan in the last two years. Since then, cumulative transactions in the currency have reached 87.57 billion yuan ($13.68 billion), Zou Lan, director of the PBOC’s financial markets department, told reporters.
That means digital yuan transactions totaled 53.1 billion yuan in the second half of 2021, based on CNBC calculations of previously released figures.
For context, Ant Group’s Alipay disclosed in 2020 that monthly payment volume averaged 10 trillion yuan. The company is an affiliate of Alibaba that operates one of China’s two dominant apps for mobile pay, and has become the dominant form of consumer payment on the mainland.
Alipay said it had about 711 million monthly active users as of June 2020.
New users climb
China’s digital yuan users have increased faster than transaction volume has.
The number of individual digital yuan users climbed to 261 million as of the end of 2021, an increase of 240.13 million from the end of June, according to the PBOC.
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Citi expects China’s economy to expand by 4.7% in 2022
However, far fewer businesses accept the digital yuan, and it remains unclear what incentives consumers have to use the currency versus Alipay or WeChat Pay.
As of October, about 10 million businesses had digital yuan wallets, according to state media. That’s far below the more than 80 million monthly active merchants Alipay reported in June 2020.
The PBOC did not provide an update on the number of merchant wallets or figures for January.
Still, the digital yuan’s wider availability and government promotions could encourage greater use.
Earlier this month, the bank started allowing the general public to download a pilot version of the digital yuan app from the Android and Apple app stores, for users in 10 Chinese cities.
Before offering the digital yuan to the general public, the central bank’s initial tests were only open to users selected by lottery. Once invited, residents of certain cities could use digital yuan vouchers to buy products at designated stores within certain time periods.
— CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.
Jan 19, 2022 13:57
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