China buys half of the lithium mines on the market – by Elouise Fowler (Australian Financial Review – August 27, 2023)

Half of the world’s biggest lithium mines put on the market since 2018 were bought by Chinese companies, underscoring the tightening grip of the world’s second-largest economy over the global battery metal supply chain.

But a closer look suggests national interest arguments are posing a hurdle to future deals where the United States and its allies are concerned, pushing China deeper into emerging markets for new sources of the coveted raw material.

Chinese firms bought 10 of the 20 lithium mines up for grabs, for an estimated $US7.9 billion ($12.3 billion), while Australian companies came a distant second, purchasing just five mines over the past five years, according to a survey of deals worth more than $US100 million by S&P Global Ratings.

Chinese car makers and battery manufacturers are also increasingly taking raw material supply into their own hands to secure lithium and battery minerals, buying 23 equity stakes in lithium, nickel and cobalt companies.

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