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The EV Race Is Turning a Gold Rush Haven Into a Battery Hub

Once-shunned lithium and nickel producers in Australia are being courted by auto leaders and commodities giants as demand for their metal surges. 

Pilbara Minerals Ltd.’s Pilgangoora mine in Western Australia.

Pilbara Minerals Ltd.’s Pilgangoora mine in Western Australia.

Photographer: Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg
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Gold has long dominated the Western Australian city of Kalgoorlie, born in a late 19th Century prospecting rush and home to one of the world’s largest-open pit mines, nestled right next to residential streets. Blasts to dislodge precious-metal laced rock from the more than two-mile long Super Pit still frequently rattle the main street.

As about 2,700 executives, investment bankers and industry stalwarts gathered in the precious metals hub last week for Australia’s key annual mining forum it was clear where the industry’s focus lies. All attention is on the frantic hunt for battery metals to deliver the world’s shift to electric vehicles.