Chinese scientists have reportedly found in excess of five million tons of lithium at a deposit in the country’s southwest Yunnan Province that could boost self-reliance for a key material needed by China’s battery makers.
Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Geochemistry found 340,000 tons of lithium oxide in a test site in central Yunnan, according to the state Xinhua News Agency.
The research team “has estimated the total amount of lithium to be in excess of five million tons”, Xinhua said. “The discovery was the result of a national project to search for mineral resource bases.”
According to China, about 80% of lithium used in the country from 2011 to 2015 was imported. And in recent years Chinese companies have clinched a plethora of deals worldwide aimed at tightening its grip on supplies of battery raw materials.
In 2018, China’s Beijing Easpring Material Technology signed a preliminary long-term deal with Pacific Rim Cobalt in Indonesia to secure supplies of nickel sulfate and cobalt sulfate. The deal came just weeks after Easpring unveiled expansion plans, saying demand for EVs had outstripped its existing lithium-ion cathode material production capacity.
BEST Battery Briefing reported last month that Australian lithium producer Alliance Mineral Assets had signed an agreement with a Chinese producer of engines for EVs, Jiangxi Special Electric Motor, aimed at jointly producing and sell battery-grade lithium hydroxide.