World’s top battery maker urges China to secure lithium

Zeng Yuqun, founder of CATL. Image from CATL.

The chairman of the world’s largest electric-car battery maker has urged the Chinese government to strengthen the lithium supply chain, given the risk of shortages of the key ingredient as demand accelerates with rising adoption of electric vehicles. 

Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd. Chairman Zeng Yuqun submitted four proposals to China’s annual parliamentary session, including speeding up exploration and development of lithium resources, encouraging independent scientific and technological research, and improving the level of resource recycling, according to a company statement. 

Zeng is a representative of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body of party delegates and people from the arts, business and legal worlds.

The price of lithium, a key material in batteries for EVs and consumer electronic devices, has surged this year after quadrupling in 2021. Lithium carbonate in China has set record highs, adding to a gain of more than 400% in 2021.

While it dominates the next-stage processes that refine lithium and other raw materials into chemicals used in EV batteries, China relies heavily on imports from countries including Australia, Chile and Democratic Republic of Congo as it lacks lithium mines. There has been an acceleration of exploration work to uncover more sources of the metal at home. 

To address supply-chain constraints, CATL is seeking to be more active upstream. It was the losing bidder for Canada’s Millennial Lithium Corp., and has signed agreements with several Chinese provincial governments such as Sichuan and Jiangxi to secure lithium supplies. 

To further guarantee the development of batteries and energy storage — two major business segments for CATL — Zeng put forward proposals on pricing strategies for energy storage and lithium-ion battery transportation logistics management.


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