Elon Musk reportedly approached Glencore CEO about buying stake in JSE-listed mining giant

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Elon Musk. Picture: Gallo Images/Getty Images
Elon Musk. Picture: Gallo Images/Getty Images

The world's richest man, SA-born Elon Musk reportedly held talks with Glencore, which is headed by South African Gary Nagle, over the possibility of Telsa buying as much as a fifth of the mining and commodity giant.

This comes on the heels of Musk closing his R805 billion takeover of Twitter last week. 

Two sources familiar with the matter told the Financial Times that discussions for the electric car and battery maker buying a 10 to 20% stake in Glencore began last year and continued in March when Nagle, Glencore's CEO, visited Tesla's California factory. The electric car industry is reliant on mining companies for raw materials such as cobalt, lithium, and nickel for batteries.

Glencore has a market cap of nearly R1.4 trillion.

Talks between the parties ended without a deal, as Tesla was reportedly concerned about whether Glencore's coal mining business was compatible with its environmental goals. 

Tesla didn't respond to the FT's request for comment, while Glencore declined to comment.

Musk had previously tweeted that "Tesla might actually have to get into the mining & refining directly", referencing rising lithium prices.

Glencore is one of the world's largest cobalt suppliers, and it currently has a deal with Tesla for up to 6 000 tons of cobalt a year to build lithium-ion batteries at the company's Shanghai and Berlin Gigafactories. Glencore has cobalt operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Cobalt mining in the country has been linked to human rights abuses and use of child labour.

Tesla previously defended that deal, saying: 

Because Tesla recognizes the higher risks of human rights issues within cobalt supply chains, particularly for child labor in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, we have made a significant effort to establish processes to remove these risks from our supply chain.

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