China’s Tsingshan Holding Group will invest $233 million in a project to make value-added lithium products in northern Chile as the race accelerates for metals critical to the energy transition.
(Bloomberg) — China’s Tsingshan Holding Group will invest $233 million in a project to make value-added lithium products in northern Chile as the race accelerates for metals critical to the energy transition.
The giant metals group owned by billionaire Xiang Guangda becomes the second Chinese firm to be granted preferential access for Chilean lithium for use in downstream projects in the South American nation.
The agreement was announced as part of Chilean President Gabriel Boric’s trip to China, where he met with Xiang. Chile, home to the largest lithium reserves, is looking to boost production of the metal under a new public-private model, while also encouraging investments and the transfer of skills further along the battery supply chain.
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The latest Chinese investment in South America’s so-called lithium triangle shows the challenges for US efforts to counter China’s dominance of key parts of battery metal supply chains. Separately, Argentine President Alberto Fernandez met on Monday with the head of Tibet Summit Resources in Shanghai to discuss the company’s lithium projects in Salta province.
Yongqing Technology, Tsingshan’s new energy unit, will source lithium carbonate from Chile’s biggest producer, SQM, at preferential prices through 2030. It will be for a plant that can produce as much as 120,000 tons a year of lithium iron phosphate cathode for rechargeable batteries, Chile’s government said in a statement Monday.
It’s a similar arrangement to one announced in April with electric-vehicle juggernaut BYD Co. Additional lithium offtake — from Albemarle Corp.’s mine in Chile — will become available next year for similar deals.
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Development work on Yongqing’s project in the Antofagasta region will start in 2025. It will also source lithium carbonate from Tsingshan’s venture with France’s Eramet SA in Salta, Argentina.
–With assistance from Eduardo Thomson.
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