Frenzy of Foreign Suitors Wooing Australian Lithium Miners (Asia Financial – August 23, 2023)

The deals mania comes as Australia undertakes a critical minerals strategy that envisages major collaborations with investors and global partners to become a renewables superpower

Emerging Australian lithium companies have seen a surge of buyouts from suitors seeking to secure cheaper supplies of electric-vehicle battery materials.

Companies such as Albemarle Corp, the biggest lithium producer, have been seeking buys in Australia, which makes the most lithium in the world and has more than 80 lithium-related companies listed on its main stock exchange. Their interest has been driven by falling prices for the commodity and a move by major producer Chile to nationalise its lithium industry earlier this year.

However, buyers are reluctant to pay for listed producers whose market valuations have skyrocketed on the back of booming prices, while offers have been rebuffed on the promise of soaring demand to come from sales of electric vehicles and the lithium-loaded batteries that power them.

That is forcing acquirers to shift their hunt to earlier stage lithium developers, including some who are drilling to quantify reserves, according to bankers, lawyers and mining analysts. Many of these firms are less pricey and are hungry for funds as they ramp up their activities.

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