JOPLIN, Mo. — Two area companies are hoping to ink an agreement with a foreign country to ensure a long term supply of a strategic metal, and eliminate the middle man in the process.

Randy Moore, the president of Æsir Technologies, which used to be called ZAF Energy Systems, says the days of lead acid batteries are limited. And he says these nickel zinc batteries, made here in Joplin, will be the product to eventually take their place.

Through a proposed new agreement with representatives of the Philippine Government, the path the products currently take from the ground to the manufacturing process will change.

“And so that Nickel Hydroxide that will come out of the Philippines will be used in South Dakota and Joplin,” said Randy Moore, President & CEO, Æsir Technologies.

He says nickel zinc batteries produce more energy, take up less space, are lighter than lead acid batteries and do much less damage to the environment. But right now, they are mined in the Philippines, pre processed in China and then come to the U.S.

Basically what this agreement will do is bypass China. Craig Wilkins is the president and CEO of another Joplin company called Battery Grade Materials that will help get the zinc out of the ground and pre-processed

“Our intent is to not only mine the materials but also process that material in the Philippines, so they get some value added manufacturing there, and then we’ll bring that here, do final processing into hydroxide which will go into the batteries,” said Craig Wilkins, President/CEO, Battery Grade Materials.

Dr. Ceferino Rodolfo, who represents the Philippine Government says his country is also excited by the prospect of cutting out the middle man, in this case the country of China, and working directly with American businesses.

“We see strong synergies between the Filipino companies and American companies only work together so we secure, help secure American supply chain in very critical products that you need now,” said Dr. Ceferino Rodolfo, Philippine Undersecretary.

Currently, Rodolfo says his country produces 31% of the entire world’s supply of nickel ore, the vast majority of which is imported by China.