China’s biggest lithium compounds producer Ganfeng Lithium Co Ltd said on Monday it will buy Argentina-focused Lithea Inc for up to $962 million as it seeks to secure access to more resources for production of key battery metals.
Privately owned Lithea owns rights to two lithium salt lakes in Argentina’s mineral-rich Salta province.
The deal comes amid a rush to secure lithium resources as demand for the metal soars on expectations of rapid growth in electric vehicle demand.
The deal would help Ganfeng, a supplier of battery-grade lithium to EV makers like Tesla, strengthen “the layout of its upstream lithium resources” and its resource self-sufficiency, it said in a stock exchange statement.
Last year, global lithium production jumped 21%, powered by spiking demand for industry-standard lithium-ion batteries, according to data from the US Geological Survey (USGS).
Argentina, part of the so-called “lithium triangle”, has been trying to attract more investors with new mining infrastructure and tax cuts.
Rio Tinto said in December it would buy the Rincon lithium project in Argentina’s Salta province for $825 million as the global miner builds its battery materials business.
United States-based Lithium Americas Corp also has a lithium project in the same area.
Lithea is owned by LSC Lithium BV, which is in turn owned by Pluspetrol Resource Corp, an oil and gas mining firm.
(By Dominique Patton; Editing by Susan Fenton)