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The Cathode active materials and critical minerals market is constantly evolving, sourcing newer materials that can be utilised across a wide range of industry sectors, and with that comes an increased demand for more effective, more sustainable and more cost-effective battery materials.
With huge steps being taken to transition to clean energy, the battery materials value chain is experiencing accelerated a surge in demand with significant growth forecast over the next ten years as energy storage becomes vital to developing alternative energy systems. CSG Talent are already seeing the impact this is having on both materials and talent shortages. We explored this specifically for the tech metals space in this article on REE’s: The Future of Mining Rare Earth Minerals: Will Material Shortages Harbour the Transition to Clean Energy?
Critical minerals and their use for battery cathode materials are in the highest demand to support the energy transition. The cathode impacts both the power and capacity of a battery composed of lithium and other metals. Critical minerals are essential to contributing to the paradigm shift to electrification and proposed decarbonisation projects globally. In conjunction with this they are also a key factor for the economic and supply chain security of all nation states.
CSG Talent’s Mining Minerals and Metals Recruitment Team specialise in the recruitment of experienced talent who work within cathode active materials environments. The team work closely with consultancies, engineering firms, battery recycling businesses and speciality chemicals organisations. With these partnerships, we understand the challenges businesses are facing within a market that is rapidly developing in both complexity and size.
We explore some of the latest developments, prevalent talent issues and tactics that can be implemented to overcome some of these talent challenges.
Cathode Battery Materials: A Rapidly Changing Market
To improve mining efficiencies, organisations are increasingly diversifying their revenue streams. Countries need to diversify supplies of critical minerals and create sustainable international supply chains which will support the growth in demand in coming years. There are currently projects underway in the UK and worldwide to establish what sources are available within each country and a strategy road map to access and utilise these resources in an economically viable manner.
For refining and downstream processing there are goals to develop domestic supply chains for the battery minerals and cathode materials industry to remove both reliance and dependence on specific geographical locations. Examples of this include development of facilities within UK, Europe, Canada, US.
Battery recycling is developing to alleviate the pressure on sourcing raw materials and over time will continue to support the demand for specific key minerals. The projected demand for these commodities means that the short fall will not be met through recycling alone but in time, the ability to recycle battery materials will decrease the need to source new materials from natural deposits.
An increase in Gigafactories
A huge development area we expect to see an increase in globally is Gigafactories for battery construction. We will see countries looking to refine raw materials themselves and building the infrastructure to facilitate this such as lithium refineries/converters with the advantage of having refined materials located closely to OEM’s and point of use for the manufacture of energy storage solutions such as EV batteries. Strategic partnerships will be established across the supply chain to protect interests and guarantee the ability to support offtake agreements and vertically integrated solutions for battery production. The goal being to achieve this integration through a focus on verticals between upstream and downstream processing; mining owners and operators vs cathode manufacturers and technology OEM’s for battery construction, and the growing EV automotive sector, among other renewable energy applications.
A Challenging Talent Landscape
In a market driven by candidates and talent shortages, businesses are struggling to engage with the right talent to continue to drive forward business activity and achieve success.
Limited experienced talent pool and talent shortages
Talent shortages are being experienced across all industry sectors, businesses are struggling to source, attract and engage with the right, skilled and experienced talent to join their business. This is no different for battery materials.
Battery materials is still a relatively new market which is continuing to grow, as a result, there is a limited talent pool available with direct, hands-on experience in the battery materials space.
Counteroffers and increase in salaries
Like many other industries, counteroffers are having a huge impact within battery materials and mining. With many businesses already facing talent shortages and recruitment challenges, a key focus is to retain existing talent. When an employee hands in their notice, businesses are establishing their motive for seeking a role elsewhere and making increased offers on salaries and benefits to entice individuals to stay. Many organisations are increasing salaries by a significant amount to encourage employees to stay which is having repercussions on salaries in the market.
Bianca Yorke Davies, Expert Consultant at CSG Talent highlighted in a recent article, Counteroffers – Making the right decision to support your long-term career goals the impact counteroffers are having on organisations. Increased salaries are making it difficult for employers who have limited financial resource to compete with higher packages. Ultimately, it is not sustainable for businesses to be paying significantly higher salaries as it will continue to drive salary expectations going forward.
Geographical locations which require relocation
Mine sites are often found in locations which may require talent to re-locate to take on a new job opportunity. The major countries where battery metals mines are located include Australia, USA, Canada and South America with a growing presence in Europe. The relocation process itself can have a huge impact on an individual’s life with many factors to be considered during the recruitment process. We work with clients who continually review their relocation packages as part of their hiring process to ensure they offer an attractive package for potential candidates, considering all elements such as; comprehensive details on the locations, communities, housing, schools and businesses.
We find that many of our clients operating within battery materials offer full relocation and visa-support packages for both candidates and their families. Housing allowance, shipment costs and ongoing support whilst the candidate and their family transitions to a new location are often provided. More senior roles may also provide support with schooling fees.
Salary ranges are also taken into consideration to reflect regional differences and benchmarks. This is something the expert teams at CSG Talent often provide guidance to our clients on through market mapping and market insights and intelligence.
Roles in demand within Battery Materials
Predominantly, the Battery Materials specialist team at CSG Talent operate across technical, engineering and supply chain functions from mid – executive level roles. The team are currently experiencing increased demand for roles including Senior Process Engineer, Vice President of Process Engineering and Commodity Buyers are all areas of expansion within the battery materials value chain.
All functions and areas within battery materials and critical minerals are experiencing growth including; raw materials asset development, ESG considerations, and an overall goal for decarbonisation of the industry. Other areas of growth include raw materials processing, refinery, battery construction and the refinement of materials: cathode active materials/pre curser for cathode active materials.
Technical experience with hydrometallurgy flowsheet development and design are other areas the battery materials recruitment team have seen a surge in demand in recent months. Alongside this, finding candidates with the breadth and depth of knowledge and experience relating to spodumene, brine and clay is increasingly difficult for clients as in some geographies is still a relatively juvenile commodity.
Overcoming the Talent Challenges
To combat the ongoing skills shortage and the impact market changes may have on talent attraction, businesses operating within battery materials and critical minerals markets must take action to ensure the right talent is hired to achieve business growth and strategic goals.
Evaluate hiring processes
Organisations should review their current hiring processes and establish if this process is effective and streamlined. Consider the duration of the full recruitment process and if lengthy processes or delays with interviews may impact the success of recruitment campaigns. Ensure there is a well-structured and defined interview process with full transparency on stages of interview, interview panellists, interview structure and assessment of potential candidates.
Focus on employer brand & EVP
Having a well-established and attractive employer brand can significantly contribute to attracting new talent. Many candidates are keen to hear more about a business’ values and contributions so they can understand if they align to a company’s brand and culture. For organisations operating within battery materials and critical minerals, highlighting the role the business plays in the transition to clean energy can be a great candidate motivator, with more and more working professionals eager to play their part in combatting climate change and environment impact. Working in partnership with an expert recruitment team can help communicate your brand message as they act as great ambassadors for your business.
Consider allied industries
At CSG Talent, we often source talent from allied industries, showcasing candidates with the most relevant transferrable skills. Some of these areas within mining include those with experience in extraction, crystallisation and iron exchange, potash mining, solvent extraction of copper and zinc. For newly developed areas within battery materials there is limited experienced talent so it’s vital for businesses to seek talent in allied industries to wider their talent pools. Examples include; Water/Wastewater and Chemical industries.
Assess employee benefits and salary offering
To remain competitive in a talent short and candidate driven market, it’s crucial to review and enhance benefits and salaries available for both new and existing employees. This should be an ongoing exercise for businesses to review market averages, conduct competitor reviews and research into the most sought-after benefits and workplace benefits. As highlighted, counteroffers are increasing across all areas, so salary reviews and benchmarking exercises are important for businesses to review on an ongoing basis.
With demand for battery materials set to grow, alongside ongoing challenges with attracting and retaining talent, it’s crucial for businesses to consider approaches to ensure they are in the best position to enhance their hiring and talent strategy.
If you’re keen to explore how CSG Talent can support you with attracting talent to contribute to the growth of your business as we press forward with the transition to cleaner energy sources, please get in touch with our expert mining recruitment team. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a new opportunity, check out our latest vacancies here.