The Chilean lithium supplier SQM will sell their 50% stake in the Cuachari-Olaroz project in Argentina to the Chinese company Ganfeng Lithium for 87.5 million dollars.
The agreement also stipulates that Ganfeng will pay an additional 50 million dollars to SQM if the projects lithium-sales targets are met. The transaction will likely not be completed before the final quarter of the year. The Cauchari-Olaroz project is currently surveying an 82,500 hectare area in the north of Argentina, bordered by two salt lakes, among other features. The lithium production is expected to begin there in 2020.
Canada’s Lithium Americas Corp (LAC) also announced in a separate statement that the deal would see their part of the project grow from 50% to 62.5%.
SQM is one of the largest lithium producers on the planet. In mid May it was announced that the Chinese Tianqi Lithium Corp would be buying in to the Chilean company with a 4 billion dollar ticket. According to Reuters, the transaction has yet to receive official permission before going ahead, however. In March, the government had warned against selling SQM shares to China, as they considered it would give China an unfair advantage in global resource procurement for electric vehicles. The government agency Corfo published a 45 page warning at the time, with the core statement, that Tianqi Lithium’s entry to the market would significantly distort competition.