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Saudi Arabia expands lithium processing to supply BMW

Saudi Arabia plans to build a second lithium processing facility as it ramps up efforts to develop its battery supply chain with partners in the West.

The facility will use raw materials mined in Austria to produce refined lithium hydroxide for BMW, demonstrating how the metal processing supply chain is slowly developing. Outside China.

China accounts for nearly 60 percent of the world’s processing of lithium, a key ingredient in electric vehicle batteries, while the EU and US Strengthening incentives Create more capacity.

Australian-listed lithium start-up European Lithium and Saudi Arabian conglomerate Obeikan Investment Group will each acquire a 50% stake in the plant. The facility, which will cost between $350 million and $400 million, will likely produce its first lithium hydroxide in 2026.

European Lithium will supply processing plants with lithium ore, known as spodumene, from a mine in southern Austria.

“Many people around the world fear what would happen if China turned off the power. [lithium] Exports,” said Tony Sage, executive chairman of Lithium Europe. “It would be a disaster for the energy transition.”

For Saudi Arabia, the project is the latest in a series of deals aimed at strengthening its role in Saudi Arabia. Electric car The production and battery supply chains are part of a broader effort to diversify beyond oil revenues.

Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia signed a deal with Australia’s EV Metals. battery The manufacturer plans to develop a lithium hydroxide plant that is expected to start production in 2026.

The processing of lithium is very energy intensive, Sage said, making Saudi Arabia an attractive location for processing facilities because energy is cheap.

Saudi Arabia aims to produce 500,000 cars a year by 2030, including U.S.-based Lucid Plc, whose public investment fund, the country’s sovereign wealth fund, has acquired a majority stake. It also includes those that Motors produces in the country.

Lucid, which has struggled for the past few years, announced Wednesday that it has raised $3 billion in a stock offering, with 60% of the funding coming from the PIF.

The wealth fund, chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has also launched Ceer, an electric car maker that plans to produce 170,000 vehicles a year in partnership with Foxconn and BMW.

Lithium hydroxide produced at the European lithium facility will be sold to BMW as part of an existing supply agreement. Lithium Europe plans to supply automakers with 9,000 tons of lithium hydroxide annually from 2027.

While Western countries are scrambling to secure lithium resources, the price of the metal, which has fallen nearly 50% since the beginning of the year, is still above the average for the past three years.

European Lithium said the total capital investment required to build a mine in Austria and a nearby ore processing plant, as well as to develop a factory in Saudi Arabia, would be between $800 million and $900 million. Plans for a secondary listing on NASDAQ through a special purpose acquisition company Or blank check mergerin the coming months.

https://www.ft.com/content/89b26197-87e9-4aa6-adde-797131af3d8a Saudi Arabia expands lithium processing to supply BMW

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