At about C$6.50 per share in cash, the offer price represents a premium of approximately 36% over Neo Lithium's 20-day volume-weighted average price as of October 8 on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) Venture Exchange.

The transaction, which was unanimously approved by the board of directors of Neo Lithium, is still subject to the approval at a special meeting of shareholders of Neo Lithium and relevant authorized departments, but it is expected to close in the first half of 2022, the filing said.

Neo Lithium holds a 100% interest in the Tres Quebradas Salar lithium brine lake project (the 3Q project), in Argentina’s Catamarca Province - that country's  largest lithium production area.

The project is expected to produce 20,000 tonnes of battery-grade lithium carbonate per annum over a 35-year mine life, according to a pre-feasibility study in carried out in April 2021.

Annual output is likely to ramp up to 40,000 to 60,000 tonnes through adopting evaporation technology, the preliminary study conducted by a consultant said.

“Neo Lithium's 3Q lithium brine project in Catamarca, Argentina is one of the largest and highest-grade projects of its kind in the world... The 3Q project represents an important addition to Zijin's growing global asset mix and it is a good choice for Zijin to enter the field of new energy minerals,” Zijin Mining chairman Chen Jinghe said.

Big Chinese firms have shown a great deal of interest in buying key strategic mineral resources for the new energy market.

Last month, Chinese battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology’s (CATL) entered into a definitive agreement to acquire all outstanding shares in Canadian lithium miner Millennial Lithium Corp for about C$377 million.

From July, China’s battery-grade lithium carbonate prices surged amid firm demand and rising feedstock prices, but the upward trend stopped in the week to September 30 amid widespread power cuts in China.

Fastmarkets’ price assessment for lithium carbonate 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price range, ex-works domestic China was at 175,000-190,000 yuan per tonne on Thursday October 7, unchanged from a week earlier, but more than doubled from 79,000-80,000 yuan per tonne on July 1.

Mainly known as a copper and gold miner, Zijin also took big strides in its copper business following steady output at the Kamoa-Kakula mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), in Central Africa, n July.

The copper mine is the company's latest greenfield copper project to come online, with the phase-one concentrator plant to produce a very high-grade concentrate with about 57% copper content and extremely low arsenic levels.

Fastmarkets’ copper concentrate TC/RC index, cif Asia Pacific was largely flat at $60.7 per tonne/6.07cents per lb on October 8, compared with $60.9 per tonne/6.09 cents per lb a week earlier.

Overall buying interest has remained limited recently, however, with Chinese businesses absent for the National Day holiday, with market participants only looking to start contractual negotiations during LME week.