(Bloomberg) — In the rocky deserts of Western Australia, a handful of little-known and once-shunned miners are suddenly in vogue as the electric vehicle industry clamors for a metal it can’t do without.
Executives from Australia’s lithium industry were inundated by bankers and brokers at the Diggers & Dealers Mining Forum in the outback town of Kalgoorlie this week, talking up deals to secure some of the estimated $42 billion worth of investment needed for metal producers to meet their goals.
Global automakers have snapped up producers’ shares on the open market, scrapped over supply agreements and even handed over cash for mine expansions. “The appetite is insatiable,” Dale Henderson, chief executive officer of Pilbara Minerals Ltd., said in an interview. “Any producer in lithium is very popular at the moment.”
With all net growth in car sales last year coming from EVs, demand for the raw materials in batteries has ramped up suddenly. China dominates the lithium supply chain, so Western nations have sought to develop their own production.
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