Ganfeng Lithium to buy 50% stake in Mali lithium mine for $130 million

China lithium producer Ganfeng Lithium is acquiring a 50% stake in a special purpose company that owns the Goulamina hard-rock mine in Mali for $130 million, the company said on Tuesday June 15.

Australia-listed Firefinch, Goulamina’s current license holder, will hold the remaining 50% stake of the company that Firefinch plans to set up.

Mali’s government can take 10% of the equity, free of charge, and pay in cash for up to 10% more, the company said.

The project has a reserve of 108.5 million tonnes of spodumene concentrate, Ganfeng said, citing data from Firefinch.

Upon the completion of the deal, Ganfeng will acquire offtake rights to 50% of the first-phase annual production capacity of 455,000 tonnes per year of spodumene concentrate and may obtain the remaining 50% offtake rights if it helps Lithium du Mali SA (LMSA), the subsidiary under the special purpose company, to raise debt or gives financial assistance, Ganfeng said.

Ganfeng will help LMSA to raise at least US$64 million from banks or other financial institutions to develop and construct the mine, and will also opt to provide up to US$40 million in direct financial assistance, it said.

The deal will take place when Ganfeng is steadily ramping up its lithium operations, market participants said.

Earlier in June, the company said it would set up a joint venture (JV) to invest in and construct a lithium project with an output of 50,000 tpy of lithium salts in Fengcheng city, Jiangxi province.

On May 7, the lithium giant said it would acquire Bacanora Lithium for up to $264 million, thereby becoming the full owner of the Sonora lithium project in Mexico.

The demand for lithium chemicals used to produce electric vehicle (EV) batteries has surged notably in the last two to three years amid global ambitions to develop green mobility, sources said.

As a result, prices for battery-grade lithium chemicals, especially for lithium hydroxide - the feedstock for nickel-rich nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM) lithium-ion batteries that provide the highest energy density among all battery types - rose quickly in the first six months of 2021.

Fastmarkets’ weekly assessment for the lithium hydroxide monohydrate, 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery grade, spot price range, exw domestic China was at 92,500-97,500 yuan ($14,467-15,249) per tonne on June 10, unchanged from a week ago but up from 41,000-46,000 yuan per tonne on December 31.

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