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French, Chinese firms restart Argentina lithium project

Written by: Leonard Parker | Solar News | 09th November

French mining group Eramet said Monday it was reviving a joint project with China's Tsingshan to build a lithium production plant in Argentina to supply the booming electric car industry.

Construction will begin next year on a deposit in the northwestern province of Salta, with the facility set to open in 2024, said Emaret chief executive Christel Bories.

The plant is expected to meet 15 percent of Europe's lithium needs, Bories told reporters in a conference call.

The metal is a key component for electric car batteries.

Chinese steel group Tsingshan will pay $375 million for the construction of the plant and own a 49.9 percent stake.

Eramet, which owns the rights to the mountain deposit, will put up $25 million and hold a 50.1 percent share.

The project was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. It is part of Eramet's strategy to become a major player in metals needed for the world's energy transition.

Bories said the lithium market is expected to grow from 350,000 tonnes per year today to two million tonnes by 2030.

"There is currently a lithium shortage," she said.

The Argentina plant is expected to produce 24,000 tonnes of lithium per year.



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