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Lithium value-add faces obstacles in Latin America

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Subject

Outlook for the "lithium triangle".

Significance

South Korean steel maker POSCO announced in June that it is pulling out of a joint project with Samsung to manufacture lithium battery parts in Chile. POSCO’s exit came despite an earlier agreement giving it guaranteed supplies of lithium at preferential prices for 27 years.

Impacts

  • Some lithium battery factories will be built in Latin America in coming years, but there will be questions over long-term profitability.
  • Locating some battery manufacturing in lithium triangle countries may come to be seen as the price to be paid to secure mining rights.
  • Large-scale battery production will remain concentrated in major EV assembly facilities in China, North America and Europe.
  • Lithium triangle countries will be under ongoing pressure to balance lighter touch regulation with environmental protection.
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