VANCOUVER (Reuters) – Canadian developers of cobalt and lithium mines stand to benefit from a round of investments from the makers of electric vehicles and the batteries powering them, a potential game-changer for small miners short on money to develop deposits of these critical battery ingredients.
Toronto-listed cobalt companies, Ecobalt Solutions and Fortune Minerals, are in talks, ranging from preliminary to more advanced, with more than a dozen groups, including car and battery makers, on financing their projects, their chief executives told Reuters.
The interest in miners from downstream players along the battery supply chain – a new area of investment for most – would provide a life-line to miners at time when equity funding for developers remains relatively tight after a five-year downturn on weak metals prices.
“We anticipate additional transactions in the coming months and years. It is a function of demand-supply imbalance,” said John Kanellitsas, President and Vice Chairman of Lithium Americas Corp, which raised nearly $300 million this year for a project in Argentina.
A string of potential financing deals in Canada comes after a handful of predominantly lithium miners in Australia – the world’s biggest lithium producer – secured investment from mainly Chinese automakers and battery makers this year looking to lock in future raw material supply.