Europe’s first lithium mine looks to automakers for investment – by Christiaan Hetzner (Automative News Europe – February 21, 2019)

BOCHUM — Europe’s first lithium mine is looking for investors from the auto industry looking to secure an environmentally-friendly supply of the key battery material for their electric vehicles.

While the 250-million-euro project in Finland will not be enough to make Europe self-sufficient, the company expects it can deliver enough lithium to comprise 25 gigawatt hours of battery cell supply starting at the end of 2021.

Speaking on the sidelines of the annual CAR Symposium in Bochum earlier this month, the mine’s operator said automakers are mulling the possibility of owning a stake. Currently a ton of battery-grade lithium hydroxide sells on the open market for about $14,000, but prices can vary considerably.

“We see that the car industry is also interested to invest in mining, which hasn’t ever happened before to secure their raw material source and have clear control over where their material for their batteries is coming from,” said Pertti Lamberg, CEO of Keliber Oy.

Declining to name automakers, the executive said another alternative to investment is a fixed supply deal where an automaker agrees to take production for the bulk of the mine’s economic lifetime.

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