How China is winning the race for Africa’s lithium – by Harry Dempsey and Joseph Cotterill (Financial Times – April 2, 2023)

The country already dominates processing of the metal for use in electric vehicle batteries and is now investing heavily in mines, leaving western operators scrambling to keep up

The settlement of Uis in a remote part of Namibia seems an unlikely hotspot for a mineral cold war over the future of electric vehicles.

Uis lies in the arid hills of Erongo, a large and sparsely populated province of the south-west African country. For decades the only signs of its mineral wealth were the gemstones sold to tourists by artisanal miners, who scrabbled a living in the shadow of a disused tin mine.

But soon the site of that mine will be part of a global race for lithium, the alkali metal that is a key raw material for automotive batteries. Securing reliable lithium supply is one of the biggest challenges facing carmakers striving to produce more electric vehicles.

A pilot plant being built by Andrada, a London-listed miner, should produce its first batch of concentrated lithium by the end of June, using ore mined from the resurrected and expanded tin operation.

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