Japanese car giant Toyota has confirmed plans to acquire a 15% stake in Australian-based lithium mining company Orocobre with an estimated investment of AUD292 million ($229m).
The move will help secure stable supplies of a key mineral for future electric vehicle batteries to meet anticipated market demand, Toyota said.
In addition, Toyota said the deal will see its trading arm, Toyota Tsusho, become the exclusive sales agent for the second phase of the Orocobre brine-based lithium carbonate production project in Argentina— the Olaroz Lithium Facility.
The acquisition will also support the joint development by Toyota Tsusho and Orocobre of a 10,000 tonnes per annum lithium hydroxide plant in Fukushima, Japan, with expected operating costs of $1,500 per tonne.
Olaroz started producing lithium carbonate in 2014. Toyota’s investment will see the facility ramp up production by an extra 25,000 tonnes per annum from its current 17,500 capacity.
Toyota said a final investment decision on the expansion plan will be taken in mid-2018, with commissioning set for the second half of 2019.