Commodity trader Trafigura backs UK lithium refinery project

Commodity trader Trafigura is set to take part in a start-up company behind ambitious plans to supply lithium car refiners in Europe to UK carmakers and batteries.

As part of the investment, Trafigura, one of the largest metal dealers in the world, will buy green lithium with raw materials for a planned 50,000 tonne plant in the north of England and sell the finished product to customers across Europe.

This will be Trapigura’s first major deal in the lithium field and it comes when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine underscores the dangers of over-reliance on one country for the supply of goods.

Trafigura estimates that more than 90% of the lithium in the world is produced from refineries in China, which also process the vast majority of cobalt and nickel, other key battery materials.

Socrates Economomeu, head of the nickel and cobalt department at Trefigure, said there are many such Big gigafactory battery projects In development in Europe and North America. “The question is where are they going to get the raw materials that go into the batteries.”

Most of the lithium used in electric car batteries is currently extracted from bricks in Chile and Argentina and rocks excavated in Australia which are then processed in China, mostly using fossil fuels.

There are currently no commercial refineries in Europe, which makes automakers and batteries in the region rely almost entirely on China for supply.

“Ninety percent of lithium production in Australia… Is related to Chinese refineries because there is no other capacity in the world,” Aconmo said.

Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, an industry consultant, predicts this year 117,000 tonnes of lithium demand for batteries in Europe, up to 250,000 tonnes in 2025 and 600,000 tonnes by 2030. From 2024, European battery and car manufacturers will also face high tariffs. Not a source of local raw materials.

The agreement with Trafigura is a vote of confidence in Green Lithium, which hopes to obtain the necessary approvals for its project by the end of the year. She has yet to unveil the site she chose in the north of England but expects to do so soon.

The company, which started work on the project four years ago, last year raised initial funding of £ 1.6 million from investors and also obtained a £ 600,000 grant from the UK government.

It produced lithium hydroxide in its first battery class – the product preferred by automakers – under laboratory conditions last year, and is in the process of raising capital to reach a final investment decision. It hopes to operate the refinery by the end of 2025.

The company claims that the plant will use carbon-door refining technology and at one time at full output will produce enough lithium to support the production of one million electric vehicles a year. It plans to sell the waste generated while converting lithium-containing spudum ores to a refined product for the construction industry.

Green Lithium said the project will support 1,000 jobs during the construction phase and 200 after it is operational.

CEO Sean Sergeant said Trafigora is the “perfect fit” for the company. “She is also willing to make a major capital investment,” he said.

The price of lithium hydroxide jumped 140% this year to more than $ 65.00 per ton, as sales of electric vehicles rose, according to Benchmark Minerals.

However, the rise is starting to bother automakers. Tesla’s Elon Musk recently said that lithium has reached “insane” levels and is now the “basic limiting factor” in the growth of electric vehicles. He also said the company may consider mining or refining lithium.

Commodity trader Trafigura backs UK lithium refinery project Source link Commodity trader Trafigura backs UK lithium refinery project

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