SANTIAGO (Reuters) – China’s Tianqi Lithium Corp (002466.SZ) has purchased a 23.77 percent share in Chilean lithium miner SQM (SQMa.SN) from Canadian fertilizer giant Nutrien (NTR.TO), the Chilean stock exchange said on Monday, for a total sale price of $4.066 billion.
The sale to Tianqi comes as Chinese companies increasingly scour the globe for the raw materials necessary to ramp up Chinese production of electric vehicles. Lithium is a key component in the batteries that power everything from cellphones to electric vehicles.
“A minority stake in SQM is great from our perspective, especially when we look at long term growth and expectations for the lithium industry,” said Ashley Ozols, business development manager for Tianqi, after the deal closed.
Tianqi struck a deal earlier this year to buy the stake from Nutrien, the company formed by the merger of Agrium and Potash Corp of Saskatchewan. As part of that deal, Nutrien was required to sell the stake.
But the Tianqi deal immediately met with scrutiny from regulators, competitors and consumer groups. Chilean authorities initially expressed concerns that a tie-up between Tianqi and SQM would give the Chinese company a near monopoly over the global lithium market and unprecedented pricing power.