Toyota Tsusho, the trading arm of Toyota, has acquired a 15% share in Australian lithium miner Orocobre. The deal cost Toyota 232m dollars but the investment is to secure exclusive lithium supply for its future EV batteries.
The deal is a progression from an existing partnerhsip between the two companies and will further establish Toyota as exclusive buyer as well as seller of Orocobre’s lithium.
Together Toyota Tsusho and Orocobre have been developing the Salar de Olaroz Lithium Facility in Argentina’s Jujuy Province. It is a lithium brine project, a highly cost-effective extraction method.
Toyota Tsusho is the exclusive sales agent for the project and has established a worldwide sales network for lithium from Olaroz since the first production in 2014.
Through this latest investment, Toyota Tsusho and Orocobre will tighten their existing partnership and bring it to a new level of strategic alliance. The 232m dollars Toyota injected will be used primarily for the expansion of the Olaroz Project (Phase 2), which targets an additional capacity of 25,000 tonnes per annum. The expansion will potentially bring the total output at Olaroz to 42,500 tonnes of lithium a year.
As a key part of the strategic investment, Toyota Tsusho will be appointed as the exclusive sales agent for Phase 2 production as well and will secure a long term supply of lithium products to respond to the growing market demand.
Lithium demand is expected to continue growing especially with the shift to electric vehicles (EV), and already lithium prices more than doubled in the past few years.
Furthermore, together with Orocobre Toyota Tsusho plans to accelerate not only the expansion of the Olaroz facility, but also develop the value chain via joint investment in a Lithium Hydroxide project in Japan.