A recent report from metals and minerals research firm Roskill details how China is quickly working to increase its control of the lithium supply chain to support the rapid growth of its lithium-ion battery industry. The report provides examples of several major players who have recently announced or completed acquisitions.
CATL, one of China’s largest battery manufacturers, has acquired North American Lithium, including the Quebec Lithium mine and lithium carbonate conversion plant. CATL has been importing spodumene (lithium aluminum inosilicate) concentrate from Quebec since 2017.
One of CATL’s competitors, Shaanxi J&R Optimum Energy, has been in discussions with Altura Mining of Australia regarding a potential transaction in which Optimum would take control of Altura, along with its Pilgangoora project.
Another acquisition announcement involves Nextview New Energy and Lithium X Energy. Through that merger, Nextview takes control of the Sal de los Angeles and Arizaro lithium brine projects, and consolidates Lithium X’s Clayton Valley holdings with those held by Pure Energy, giving Nextview approximately 19% of Pure Energy’s shares.
In closing, the report mentioned one stumbling block for China – Chile’s minerals development agency, Corfo, has asked antitrust regulators to block the sale of a 32% stake in the Chilean chemical company, SQM, to Tianqi Lithium on the grounds of creating unfair competition.