Russian Nuclear Giant Joins Scramble to Supply Electric-Car Boom – by Jack Farchy and Elena Mazneva (Bloomberg News – September 19, 2017)

Russia’s state-owned nuclear corporation is joining the lithium rush. After a collapse in the price of uranium, Rosatom Corp. plans to start mining and trading the metal used in batteries as it seeks to profit from the rapid rise of electric vehicles.

“The evolution of the car business is going much faster than predicted,” Kirill Komarov, the company’s first deputy head, said in an interview. “We plan to accumulate the whole integrated line of everything starting from lithium and up to final batteries or even some cooperation with car producers.”

Rosatom is the latest company to join a global scramble for lithium projects to supply growing demand for batteries used in electric cars such as Tesla Inc.’s Model 3 and General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet Bolt.

Prices for lithium carbonate have more than doubled over the past two years to about $14,000 a metric ton, according to a UBS Group AG report last week. By comparison, uranium prices have dropped about 40 percent since the end of 2014.

Rosatom plans to get 30 percent of its revenue from businesses outside nuclear energy by 2030, Komarov said. The company’s strong balance sheet, with a ratio of net debt to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of less than one, means it can invest in new products, he said.

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