Lithium min­ers snap up Aus­tralia land

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - BUSINESS & FARM -

PERTH, Aus­tralia — A scram­ble by the lithium mar­ket’s big­gest play­ers to tie up the sup­ply of the metal is gath­er­ing pace in the 170-year-old heart­land of Aus­tralia’s $90 bil­lion min­ing in­dus­try. Ris­ing Chi­nese de­mand for lithium- ion bat­ter­ies needed for elec­tric ve­hi­cles and en­ergy stor­age is driv­ing sig­nif­i­cant price gains and an as­set boom in Aus­tralia, al­ready the world’s largest lithium pro­ducer. The fast­de­vel­op­ing hub is draw­ing in­vest­ment and deals from global pro­duc­ers as well as chem­i­cal-to-bat­tery man­u­fac­tur­ers in China, the top con­sumer. Western Aus­tralia has four op­er­a­tions in pro­duc­tion and three more ma­jor projects be­ing ad­vanced to be­gin out­put. Ma­jor play­ers are likely to con­tinue to scope for deals in the state to se­cure sup­ply for the next 20 or 30 years, ac­cord­ing to con­sul­tant Bench­mark Min­eral In­tel­li­gence. “There are se­ri­ous com­pa­nies in­vest­ing and peo­ple are start­ing to lock up the big­gest, long-life re­sources. The ques­tion is — who’s next?” Si­mon Moores, manag­ing direc­tor of Bench­mark Min­eral, said by phone from Lon­don.

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