Livent looks to Canada for lithium growth opportunities – CEO

Nemaska’s Whabouchi lithium deposit in Quebec’s James Bay region, 300 km northwest of Chibougamau. (Credit: Nemaska Lithium)

Lithium producer Livent Corp is eyeing acquisitions in Canada and other countries as it looks to boost its production and processing of the metal used to make electric vehicle batteries, its chief executive told Reuters.

Already one of the top global producers of the metal, Livent has expansions underway across the globe, including Canada, but wants to grow more to meet rising demand for the metal from the electric vehicle (EV) and renewable energy industries.

“We see Canada as a core part of our expansion capacity,” Paul Graves, Livent’s CEO, said in a Thursday interview. “We have to get bigger. We can’t just sit still.”

The Philadelphia-based company last month named Sarah Maryssael as its chief strategy officer to pursue potential lithium deals across the globe. Livent poached Maryssael from Tesla Inc, where she oversaw the automaker’s lithium, cobalt and nickel sourcing.

Related: Livent in deal to buy Nemaska, extend Tesla contract

Livent earlier this week posted better-than-expected quarterly earnings and raised the midpoint of its annual forecast, though the company trimmed the forecast’s top end due to inflation concerns.

Livent has been steadily growing in Canada since forming a joint venture in 2020 to buy Quebec’s Nemaska lithium project, which is now expected to open by 2025 and produce 34,000 tonnes of lithium. Graves said Nemaska could eventually produce 100,000 tonnes annually, but Livent would still seek other growth opportunities in Canada.

Graves, CEO since 2018, added that Livent is interested in deals in Argentina, where it operates a lithium brine project, and Australia. However, Livent would not buy a lithium mine without having adequate processing capacity nearby, he added.

Livent counts General Motors Co, BMW and Tesla as key customers.

Canada’s government has been generally supportive of EV minerals projects, although on Wednesday it ordered three Chinese companies to divest from Canadian critical mining projects, citing national security concerns.

(By Ernest Scheyder; Editing by Richard Pullin)


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