Stellantis buys into Argentina copper in race for battery metals

McEwen Mining’s Los Azules copper project in Argentina’s San Juan province. Credit: McEwen Mining

Stellantis NV is buying into a firm run by mining entrepreneur Rob McEwen, potentially giving the automaker access to a giant copper deposit in Argentina as the race for metals used in electric vehicles heats up.

At a little over $150 million, Stellantis’ investment in McEwen Copper isn’t huge. But it’s the latest reminder of how keen car companies are to lock in future supplies of the materials needed to move away from fossil fuels. EVs use more than twice as much copper as gasoline-powered cars.

The maker of Peugeot cars and Jeep sport utility vehicles has its eye on one of the world’s bigger underdeveloped copper deposits in Argentina’s San Juan province. McEwen is raising funds — including from a unit of Rio Tinto Group — to develop the Los Azules project at a time when copper demand is accelerating while the industry’s production pipeline is running dry. A feasibility study for Los Azules may be ready in 2024.

The transaction, which gives Stellantis 14.2% of McEwen Copper, comes as General Motors Co. is said to be vying for a stake in Vale SA’s base metals unit and as Tesla Inc. weighs a takeover of Sigma Lithium Corp. In January, GM struck a $650 million pact with Lithium Americas Corp. to develop the top US lithium deposit.

(By James Attwood)


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