Materials technology and recycling group Umicore has signed long-term lithium supply agreements with Ganfeng Lithium and Vulcan Energy Resources. Both contracts have an initial term of five years and can be extended by mutual agreement.
The agreement with the Chinese group Ganfeng Lithium covers the supply of lithium from 2022 and will, according to Umicore, “cover a significant part of the future lithium demand in Asia”. The lithium will be mined from hard rock deposits in Australia under the strictest sustainability standards. The Belgian battery material supplier does not provide any details on the delivery volume. Ganfeng also supplies BMW and Volkswagen, among others, through multi-year contracts. But that is only in passing.
The contract between Umicore and the German-Australian company Vulcan Energy, based in Karlsruhe, does not provide for the supply of lithium until 2025. The supply relationship is intended to cover parts of Umicore’s future lithium hydroxide needs in Europe. During the five-year contract period, the Belgian company intends to purchase between 28,000 and 42,000 tonnes of the material. Vulcan Energy, or more precisely the German subsidiary Vulkan Energie Ressourcen GmbH, wants to extract lithium in the Upper Rhine region. A central processing plant for the lithium is to be built in Frankfurt Höchst.
Umicore says that both agreements ensure additional sustainable and regional supply of lithium “to meet the growing demand for cathode materials from global automotive customers”. Each of the suppliers acts in accordance with Umicore’s environmental and human rights principles. The carbon footprint of the suppliers was also an important criterion for the decision because Umicore has set itself the target of producing no greenhouse gases (“Scope 1 & 2”) from 2035 onwards. Umicore CEO Mathias Miedreich describes it as crucial to ensure a reliable supply of critical raw materials “that is also environmentally and socially responsible” in view of the accelerating transition to electromobility.
Francis Wedin, Managing Director of Vulcan Energy, calls Umicore a valuable partner in its role as a direct purchaser of Vulcan’s lithium hydroxide products: “By building a CO2-neutral cathode plant in Poland, Umicore shares our goal of decarbonising the battery supply chain in Europe.”
Umicore has invested heavily in the development of cathode materials and their precursors in recent years. It has also had a licensing agreement with BASF since May to access each other’s technologies. The German-Belgian duo has concluded a non-exclusive patent cross-licensing agreement covering a broad spectrum of cathode materials and their precursors. Specifically, the agreement covers more than 100 patent families on chemical compositions such as nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM), nickel-cobalt-aluminium (NCA), nickel-cobalt-manganese-aluminium (NCMA) and lithium-rich high-manganese high-energy NCM (HE NCM).
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