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BMW signs $335m lithium supply deal

The BMW i8 electric vehicle on display at the Chicago Auto Show media preview Feb., 2018. (Image: Darren Brode | Shutterstock.com.)

BMW has signed a €285 million ($335m) contract to source lithium from US-based Livent.

Livent will supply lithium directly to BMW’s battery cell manufacturers beginning in 2022.

BMW said March 30 the deal was part of its plans to accelerate its expansion of e-mobility in the coming years, which would increase the need for sustainable lithium supply for use in battery cells.

By 2030, the automaker plans that at least half of its global sales will come from all-electric vehicles.

BMW already has a €540 million ($636m) lithium supply deal with China’s Ganfeng Lithium, which was signed in December 2019 for the supply of sustainable lithium hydroxide from Australian hard-rock deposits.

Investors are betting big on a lithium comeback less than three years after prices of the metal used in rechargeable batteries collapsed from a record price and sent miners reeling.

Producers of the metal that had been shunned amid supply overhangs and plateauing demand raised almost $3.4 billion in equity offerings in the Americas so far this year, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

This week, Ganfeng said slower growth in lithium supply would extend a recent rally in prices after its profits nearly tripled in 2020.

Midday Thursday, Livent’s stock was up 9% on the NYSE. The company has a $2.7 billion market capitalization.