Japanese chemicals company Mitsui is to pre-pay Sigma Lithium US$30 million under a strategic alliance agreement for the supply of battery-grade lithium concentrate.
Sigma will supply Mitsui with “up to 55,000 tonnes” of material annually for six years, with an option to extend for a further five years.
Sigma said the agreement provided for a significant portion of the funding required for capital expenditures and construction of Sigma’s commercial production plant at its Grota do Cirilo lithium project in Brazil.
“Key sources” of new lithium-ion for the battery materials market in 2019 will again come from Australia, say market analysts.
An additional 60 kilotonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) output will come from mines in the so-called ‘lucky country’, according to metal and materials research consultancy Wood Mackenzie.
Australia has shown its ability to “fast-track spodumene operations in recent years through a combination of a benign investment environment, technical expertise and existing infrastructure”, Wood Mackenzie said.
Australian mining company Pilbara Minerals has secured funding from two of its key customers, in order to expand its Pilganoora lithium ore deposit.
The funding is comprised of a US$25 million offtake pre-payment facility provided by Chinese automotive manufacturer, Great Wall Motor Company, a $50m equity placement to Ganfeng Lithium, and a proposed new $50m Nordic bond to be implemented in the current quarter, with bondholder consent.
The funding package will be combined with Pilbara’s existing cash reserves and future cash flow from stage 1 operations of the Pilganoora resource to fully fund the second stage of operations. Pilbara is targeting commissioning of stage 2 from the March quarter 2020.
South Korean firms Samsung SDI and Samsung Electronics are teaming up with German car giant BMW and chemicals group BASF for a joint pilot cobalt mining project to “enhance sustainable mining” for batteries production.
The companies have signed a contract with the German overseas development support agency— Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)— to launch the pilot in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
VSPC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lithium Australia (LA), has successfully manufactured lithium-ion cathode material and lithium-ion batteries themselves from lithium mining waste.
This announcement marks the success of an extended project for LA, after BEST Battery Briefing reported last August that they had obtained permission to extract lithium from mining dumps in Western Australia.
Waste tri-lithium phosphate— which is a direct waste product from lithium mining— was successfully converted into lithium-iron-phosphate cathode material at LA’s laboratory and pilot plant facility in Brisbane, Queensland.
Zimbabwe’s government has set out proposals to build battery-manufacturing plants as part of a “lithium beneficiation” programme.
The minister for local government, public works and national housing, July Moyo (pictured), said an unspecified number of plants would be built in the country’s central Midlands Province— spurred by renewed lithium mining activity.
Portugal is set to offer licences for the exploration of lithium in the country in a bid to grab a share of the lucrative battery materials supply market for electric vehicles.
Mining behemoth BHP is stepping up investment in nickel mine development and exploration in Western Australia to become “a globally-significant battery materials supplier”.
Asset president of BHP’s Nickel West Australia mine-to-market business, Eduard Haegel, told a mining conference the group’s strategy is to secure supplies of a key battery material to supply increasing demand for electric vehicles (EVs).