Singapore’s Alliance Minerals reframes lithium supply deal, seeks new customers

Bald Hill mine, Australia. Image by Alliance Mineral assets.

Lithium miner Alliance Mineral Assets said on Tuesday it expected to choose final customers for half of its lithium supply in the next few weeks, after restructuring its existing agreements.

Alliance, which owns the Bald Hill mine in Western Australia after buying out its partner Tawana Resources last year, said it was in talks with parties in South Korea and Japan, as well as China.

“We have 80,000-100,000 tonnes that is not committed,” Managing Director Mark Calderwood told Reuters. “Arguably ours is the last 100,000 tonnes out there. (Australian supply) is all pretty much locked down.”

Several new Australian lithium mines started production in the past year, with global demand expected to surge on take-up of electric vehicles. Prices for the raw material, however, have slumped as new supply has hit the market.

Alliance shares, which resumed trading on Tuesday after a three-week trading halt, fell 12 percent A$0.23.

Under the restructured agreement, Hong Kong’s Burwill Holdings has transferred its purchasing rights to Chinese chemicals maker Jiangxi Bao Jiang Lithium Industrial Ltd.

Australia supplies around half of the world’s lithium, mostly from the world’s largest mine, Greenbushes, run by China’s Tianqi Lithium and Albemarle Corp of the United States.

Under the restructured agreement, Hong Kong’s Burwill Holdings has transferred its purchasing rights to Chinese chemicals maker Jiangxi Bao Jiang Lithium Industrial Ltd, which will take about half the previously agreed amount of lithium.

Jiangxi is a joint venture between Burwill and Jiangte Special Electric Motor Co., Ltd. It will take the first 10,000 tonne shipment next month, as part of an 80,000-100,000 supply deal this year, rising to 100,000-140,000 tonnes from 2020-2022.

Alliance also raised its production guidance for the first-half of 2019 to 65,000-80,000 dry metric tonnes (dmt) of lithium concentrate, from 55,000-60,000 dmt produced in the second-half of 2018.

Prices for lithium concentrate, or spodumene, are trading at $720 a tonne this year, down by a quarter from around $960 a year ago.

($1 = 1.3870 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Melanie Burton; editing by Joseph Radford and Richard Pullin)

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