The Chinese battery cell manufacturer and Volkswagen partner Gotion High-Tech has signed an agreement to build a lithium carbonate plant in Argentina. In future, the material will be processed into battery cells in Argentina, which could then also be used in electric vehicles made in four continents.
The agreement with Argentina’s state-owned mining company Jujuy Energía y Minería Sociedad del Estado (JEMSE) provides for the establishment of a joint venture, provisionally named Gotion Jujuy Mining, to build and operate a refinery for battery-grade lithium carbonate in the Perico free trade zone in Jujuy province. The initial plan is for an annual capacity of 10,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate, with the possibility of expanding by a further 50,000 tonnes based on market demand.
Argentina is said to hold one of the largest lithium deposits in the world in a region known as the Lithium Triangle, which encompasses Argentina, Bolivia and Chile. According to International Lithium corp. currently over 30 per cent of globally lithium trade comes from deposits in the Lithium Triangle.
Beyond the lithium carbonate refinery, Gotion and JEMSE have decided to cooperate in other areas of the lithium supply chain. This involves the downstream business: in the province of Jujuy, the lithium carbonate is to be processed into cathode materials, which Gotion will install in battery cells in Argentina. Gotion says these are then to be used on the German, Indian, US, Spanish and Vietnamese markets.
The CN EV Post report has not revealed a timetable for the lithium carbonate refinery or the expansion of cathode and cell production. Gotion is known to be supported by VW and was the fourth-largest cell manufacturer from China in May – behind CATL, BYD and CALB, Gotion had a market share of 4.92 per cent.
The deal should support Gotion’s inexorable expansion. Already this year, Gotion achieved industrialisation of the battery cell with LFP chemistry which offers an energy density of 210 Wh/kg. This recently moved into the next stage when Gotion launched the production of LFP cathode materials. Also announced this year, the Chinese vehicle making giant Geely contracted Gotion to supply battery cells for around 126,000 Geely light commercial vehicles such as minivans and light trucks between 2022 and 2024. There is no doubt that the Chinese battery maker will need extra resources since it also opened two new battery plants in China this year.
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