By David Forest, editor, Strategic Investor
There’s a fellow who’s widely regarded as “the most interesting man in the world” when it comes to tech.
He makes brash proclamations… then often delivers on them. He dates a rock star. And he wasn’t afraid to smoke a marijuana joint live on a program with Joe Rogan.
I’m talking about Elon Musk, CEO of electric vehicle (EV) giant Tesla.
During the last few weeks, the most interesting man had a new focus: mining.
And he sent one group of stocks on a wild ride…
But before I get to that, let me tell you why Musk is so concerned about mining in the first place.
Tesla’s Big Plan to Take Control in Mining
Mining and tech have converged rapidly the last few years.
It’s one of the reasons I launched my free Path to Profits weekly dispatch, where I cover these trends. (It should hit your inbox every Monday at 7:30 p.m. ET.)
The EV business is a key place to watch. That’s because EV batteries – the heart of these vehicles – all require multiple metals: lithium, nickel, cobalt, and manganese.
For years, Musk hinted this is a big concern for Tesla. To build its EVs, the company needs steady and reliable access to these key metals.
Tesla also needs the right sources. It’s come under scrutiny for using cobalt mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa. Watchdog groups raised concerns that these mines use child labor and inhumane working conditions.
Tesla’s positioned as a vanguard of technological and social change. So, it wants the cleanest and most ethical supplies of metals going into its vehicles.
Unfortunately, this isn’t easy to do. Over 70% of the world’s cobalt comes from Congo – there simply aren’t a lot of other sources.
Ditto for metals like nickel, where half of the world’s supply comes from a couple of spots in Southeast Asia.
For most execs, this would be daunting. But Elon Musk appears to have taken up the challenge.
Last month, he revealed part of his big plan: Tesla’s going to take control in the mining business. And it’s starting with lithium.
Tesla’s Battery Day Came With a Twist
Musk can sway whole markets with a sentence or two. He used this power ahead of Tesla’s Battery Day, when he hinted the company would make big announcements about its plans in the metals business.
But things got even more intriguing in the weeks leading up to Battery Day.
On September 11, sources said Tesla was close to funding a nickel mine in western Canada. At the time, it appeared this would be Tesla’s first major deal in the mining space.
Investors bet more was coming. But Battery Day came on September 22 with a twist.
Elon Musk told shareholders that Tesla had its own, new technology for processing lithium. He also said Tesla “secured rights” to 10,000 acres of lithium clay deposits in Nevada.
Beyond that, Musk offered few details. In the wake of his comments, investors assumed Tesla was starting its own lithium mine.
Shares of lithium companies plunged – on the assumption they would be left out in the cold. The Global X Lithium & Battery Tech ETF (LIT) dropped 5% in a single day.
But then, people looked at what Musk actually said…
A Massive Surge… and an Explosive Deal
Musk’s comments on “securing rights” to lithium were vague enough that they could mean a few things.
It might be Tesla is starting its own mine. Or, it might mean it’s securing rights to supply from another company’s operations.
Suddenly, lithium was interesting again. Lithium companies rose back up. Could Musk actually be hinting at a deal coming?
On September 28 – nearly a week after Battery Day – North Carolina mining firm Piedmont Lithium announced a supply deal with Tesla. The company agreed to sell metal to Tesla’s manufacturing operations for the next five years.
All the fears of Tesla “going it alone” in lithium mining vanished. The deal made it clear they intend to buy lithium from other companies. Lithium stocks jumped on the news.
Piedmont Lithium’s share price exploded the day of its Tesla supply deal announcement, from $11 to a high of $54.50. That’s a single-day 395% gain.
Why am I telling you all this?
At this point, I believe a Tesla deal with another lithium firm is still very possible.
The upside from such an agreement is huge. And I’ve pinpointed another company I think Tesla has its eye on.
I believe it’s on the verge of another deal announcement. And just a small stake today is enough for you to ride the surge.
Keep walking the path,
Editor, Strategic Investor