Australian mining and metals company South32 aims to accelerate development of the first new U.S. manganese mine for decades as carmakers rush to secure supply of the metal needed in electric vehicle batteries.

Automakers are "super keen” to secure supply from the company’s Clark Deposit in Arizona, which would become the only local source of the metal, Chief Executive Officer Graham Kerr said in an interview. "Probably the bigger challenge is can we get it to them quick enough?”

Demand for manganese from the battery sector is set to surge ninefold by 2030, the fastest growth rate of any of the industry’s key metals, according to BloombergNEF. Prospects for production in the U.S. are also being bolstered by efforts to reduce supply chain reliance on China under U.S. President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).