- Tesla is expanding its mineral sourcing as it boosts production of the Model 3, which has notoriously faced delays. Last year, the automaker doubled its number of mineral suppliers, CIPS reported.
- In its latest conflict mineral report, the automaker admitted that it has not yet been able to fully identify the countries of origin for the 3TG metals — tungsten, tantalum, tin and gold — used in its electric cars.
- Tesla also said it sources very small amounts of cobalt because the mineral is "not that significant to the composition of Tesla’s battery cells," the automaker said.
As production ramps up, and pressures increase to meet demand, the supply chain may just remain opaque as producers and processors rush to meet orders. Good intentions sometimes go by the wayside when there is money on the line, no matter who holds membership cards in the Responsible Minerals Initiative.
This is not an indictment on Tesla, but one felt by many companies trying to balance market pressures of cost and delivery when still trying to do the right thing. And as the supply chain extends and becomes more and more complicated, bad actors at the lower levels may be playing fast and loose with the rules on the mining and processing of conflict metals.
It is hard enough to control a short neighborhood supply chain, let alone one thousands of miles away and at the mercy of those who may not have the same level of adherence to the Responsible Minerals Initiative as Tesla does.
With Tesla adding hundreds of suppliers who supply products containing 3TG metals in 2017 alone, it is a nearly impossible task to make sure they are all compliant, no matter what they say. But they need to remain on the forefront of this effort and fight the good fight. If they can lead on this issue, others may follow and real action may finally occur.
But the conflict mineral issue is a major one with deep roots, and quite tough to eradicate.
All summer long I spray all sorts of holistic and natural weed killer on the weeds in my driveway. Some die off, and some continue to live, almost to spite me. Some sadly flourish. The ice ultimately wins during the winter months, but the weeds always come back in the spring … and I keep fighting them.
I’ll judge Tesla on their effort and not so much on their result. At least they are trying. Sometimes the weeds win.