Reading the Hodge artilce several times makes me wonder why Tesla would not want to own their main source of Graphite (mine). Lets assume Tesla concludes a contract with NG for some/most of their Graphite. Why would they want to chance some one would come along and buy out NG or offer they alot more money for their Graphite? If Tesla owned the NG mine they could also fill in graphite from others but their main source would be secured for many years. With Tesla's market cap north of 26 billion, purchasing a graphite mine like NG for $3-$4 a share would be chump change for them. Thoughts?
It's an interesting question and the answer might be based on the type of business model Musk sees as most effective for Tesla. Do they want to horizontally integrate the battery factory concept down to the ownership of material inputs needed to supply the factory and build the batteries? Including Graphite and other materials? The purchase price of Northern would be but one 'cost' because there is also the ongoing cost of labor, equipment, facilities, along with the cost of mining and refining the graphite. From the perspective of batteries I understand he sees this as a major bottleneck to the expansion of production. So looking at the critical supply path the gigafactory makes sense. But does that extend to other inputs to the factory?
I wouldn't mind holding shares of tsla if the buyout was on a nice enough premium. It's objectively obvious that Northern Graphite is the best positioned in North America to supply the Gigafactory near term. Focus is in a good position too but they may have shot most of their wad already by choosing to be a China supplier.
Tesla builds cars, they don't mine minerals. They would have no reason to buy the mine; they wouldn't be able to run it as efficiently. Musk is smarter than that. If Tesla feels like they need to get NG going to lower the price of graphite (particularly spherical), I would expect that they would make sure it gets funded, but I doubt "Tesla" would do it as much as a related party.