A consortium of Chinese and Korean battery makers and investment entrepreneurs are in talks to build a lithium-ion manufacturing plant in Chile, according to Chilean newspaper Pulso.
Early talks put the total investment at around $2billion with phases 1, 2 and 3 of production earmarked for January 2018 with an initial investment in 2017 of $510million.
The consortium includes Chinese battery makers Vision Group and MTL Shenzhen Group, along with materials firm Kanhoo Group, and unnamed Korean entrepreneurs based in Chile.
The objective of the consortium is to convince the Chilean authorities to make the leap to the production of lithium batteries at the same point of extraction as lithium salt, reported Pulso.
The consortium plans to set up its offices in Santiago, and are in talks with the University of Chile, reported Pulso.
A battery manufacturing plant would make sense in the country because its one side of the so called ‘lithium triangle’ that accounts for more than 70% of the world’s known lithium reserves.
The triangle consists of the salt flats (salars) of Uyuni in Bolivia, Atacama in Chile and Hombre Muerto in Argentina.
Demand for lithium grew at an average annual rate of 11% between 2010 and 2015, with the price for 99% pure lithium carbonate exports to China – the world’s largest lithium market – doubling in the last two months of 2015, according to Advisory firm Global Lithium.
The company believes lithium carbonate use will rise to as much as 285,000 tonnes by 2020 from around 163,000 tonnes in 2015.