The metal that is now unavoidable in the global electrification of vehicles is lithium. With lithium producers, automakers and battery makers have stepped up their collaboration, sometimes paying for orders in advance to secure a steady supply.

With Livent Corp, a US-based manufacturer of lithium goods, General Motors recently signed a six-year supply agreement for lithium. The business also provides BMW. It was disclosed that GM is prepaying US$198 million for the acquisition during a conference call on August 2.

Reuters reports that Livent will start providing lithium to GM in 2025 at a set price per tonne. In the mining sector, paying in advance with cash for a certain agreement is uncommon. The acquisition thus demonstrated GM’s resolve to meet its target of producing one million electric vehicles (EV) annually in North America by 2025.

In addition, Toyota Motor obtained an increase in lithium supplies for its North American market, which accounts for the majority of the automaker’s sales. Toyota has reportedly agreed to a new supply deal with Australian maker of lithium-boron Ioneer, according to Electrek.

The Rhyolite Ridge mining project is owned by Ioneer and is located in southern Nevada. It will give Prime Planet Energy and Solutions, a partnership between Toyota and Panasonic, 4,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate every year.

According to Electrek, the JV would be able to produce over 150,000 EV batteries thanks to the lithium supply. Toyota anticipates selling 3.5 million electric vehicles annually by the end of the decade and plans to introduce 30 battery EVs by 2030.

If the recently proposed climate bill were to become law, lithium availability in the US would become more crucial. The measure includes an extension of the EV tax credit that would force automakers to purchase lithium domestically or from US free-trade allies.

In the coming years, demand for lithium is expected to soar. According to an International Energy Agency analysis on the EV battery supply chain, under the Announced Policies Scenario, the demand will rise by a factor of six to 500 kilotonnes by 2030. (APS). 50 additional mines of medium size are consequently needed. A scenario known as APS is one in which all of the government’s climate commitments are met.

The demand for lithium is now mostly being driven by batteries. The IEA claims that because lithium is essential to Li-ion batteries, its supply has become a major source of concern. Furthermore, no commercial alternative battery chemistry now available at scale can match Li-ion batteries’ level of performance.

Livent’s CEO, Paul Graves, has pushed for better collaboration between lithium producers and automakers. The CEO suggested that a lithium scarcity would develop if the automotive industry did not strike long-term agreements in an interview with Reuters last year.

In order to guarantee their lithium supplies, certain battery makers based in China have used aggressive strategies. For instance, Sunwoda declared in mid-July that one of its companies intends to purchase the Laguna Caro mining project, which is situated in an area of Argentina that is rich in lithium brine. According to OFweek, the project is owned by Goldinka Energy S.A., the third-largest producer of lithium in the nation.

On the other hand, Gotion High-tech and JEMSE of Argentina have established a strategic partnership for the provision of local lithium mineral resources. Gotion claims that a joint venture between the two businesses has been set up in Argentina to build a refiner of battery-grade lithium carbonate. The exploration and mining rights for a region of around 17,000 hectares will be provided by JEMSE.

The team wants to construct a 10,000 tonne per year lithium carbonate production line as part of the project’s initial phase. Additionally, they will work on developing downstream business. According to Gotion, markets like Germany, India, the US, Spain, and Vietnam are likely to use their Argentinean-made batteries.


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