Gina Rinehart’s Hancock invests in Vulcan Energy’s green lithium project

Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart has signalled her intentions to gain exposure to the fast growing electric vehicle (EV) battery supply chain by helping to finance a green lithium project in Germany.

Rinehart’s privately-held mining house Hancock Prospecting will become a cornerstone investor in Vulcan Energy Resources’ US$92 million institutional share sale, which will fund the next phases of development at its lithium brine resource in the Upper Rhine Valley.

The ASX-listed firm aims to become the world’s first supplier of zero carbon lithium hydroxide to EV manufacturers by harnessing renewable geothermal energy from the project area.

Vulcan’s plans form part of a wider movement to create a battery manufacturing industry in Europe to reduce a current dependency on Asian suppliers.

The company’s pre-feasibility study values its lithium resources at $3.4 billion before taxes. It plans to have a definitive feasibility study ready by 2022.

Rinehart’s investment in Vulcan comes at a time when the lithium market is starting to show growth after a difficult few years of suppressed prices. Lithium carbonate prices in China surged 37% in January, the biggest monthly gain since December 2015.