BYD postpones plans for 2025 Chile lithium cathode plant

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Chinese carmaker BYD Co has postponed plans to produce lithium cathodes for electric vehicle (EV) batteries in Chile by 2025, the firm’s Americas head told Reuters on Tuesday.

Chile’s economic development agency CORFO last year said production at a new plant to be developed by BYD was expected to begin around the end of 2025, representing a $290 million investment in the world’s second-largest lithium-producing country.

BYD chief of Americas Stella Li said she was unsure when the company would resume its plans, citing uncertainty and complications around the project, which would make components needed for electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

“That plan has been postponed because there is a lot of uncertainty,” Li said in an interview at a launch event in Mexico City for a hybrid-electric pickup truck. She did not elaborate.

When asked by Reuters about Li’s comments, CORFO said it was getting in touch with BYD to request more information, and that the company had met government milestones in its selection for preferential pricing on battery-grade lithium carbonate.

BYD, known for its low-cost EVs, produces many automotive components and systems for EVs on its own. The cathode is the most expensive element of an EV battery cell, and can be made of either lithium iron phosphate (LFP), or nickel cobalt manganese.

The BYD plant, planned for the northern region of Antofagasta, was expected to produce 50,000 metric tons per year of LFP for cathodes, according to CORFO.

(By Cassandra Garrison and Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Matthew Lewis)


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