Why are we so relaxed about an emerging oligopoly in the key battery element?
The world doesn’t like its essential commodities being controlled by a small group of producers. When Arab members of Opec resolved to cut their oil exports in response to U.S. involvement in the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, the situation was rightly deemed a global crisis.
Less than a year after BHP Billiton Ltd. announced plans to merge its iron ore operations with those of Rio Tinto Group in 2009, the proposal was dropped amid expectations that regulators in Europe and Asia would oppose the deal on antitrust grounds.
So why is there so little noise about the emerging oligopoly in one of the hottest elements on the periodic table, lithium?
Tianqi Lithium Corp. will pay $4.1 billion to buy Nutrien Ltd.’s 24 percent stake in Soc. Quimica & Minera de Chile SA, or SQM, in a deal that will entangle the biggest and fourth-biggest producers of the battery metal.
The transaction could theoretically give Tianqi half of the board seats, though other major shareholders who’ve historically guarded their interests have opposed such a path.
For the rest of this column: https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-05-18/time-to-block-the-lithium-cartel