China’s Ganfeng to acquire private Argentinian lithium firm in $962 million deal

China’s biggest lithium salts producer Ganfeng Lithium has announced a deal to purchase Argentina-focused Lithea for up to US$962 million, in a furtherance of its plans to secure key lithium deposits around the world.

Privately owned Lithea owns rights to two lithium salt lakes in Argentina’s mineral-rich Salta Province, which forms part of the Latin American ‘lithium triangle’ – along with Chile and Bolivia.

The Pozuelos-Pastos Grandes salt lake projects will initially produce 30,000 tonnes of lithium salts, with an expansion to 50,000 tonnes possible if conditions are favourable, Ganfeng said.

The move by Ganfeng comes as Argentina attempts to improve its mineral investment credentials while demand for lithium – one of its key commodities – continues to increase, predominantly from the electric vehicle (EV) market.

Last year, global lithium production jumped 21%, in response to rising demand for lithium-ion batteries, according to data from the US Geological Survey (USGS).

Ganfeng, which is a supplier of battery grade lithium to EV manufacturers including Tesla, said the deal would help it strengthen ‘the layout of its upstream lithium resources’ and its ‘resource self-sufficiency rate’.

The mining giant has already invested in two lithium projects in Argentina. Ganfeng maintains a controlling stake in the 24.5 million tonnes Cauchari-Olaroz project in Jujuy Province, in collaboration with Lithium Americas Corp. It also owns the Mariana brine project in Salta Province.