Mining and Heavy Industries

Toyota buys share of ASX lithium miner

Toyota’s trading arm will buy a stake in ASX-listed lithium miner Orocobre, in a bid to secure cheap and reliable supply of the crucial electric battery component.

Toyota Tsusho announced on January 16 it had signed an agreement to buy a 15% share of Orocobre for $282 million.

Orocobre and Toyota formed a lithium exploration joint venture in 2012, resulting in the opening of Orocobre’s Olaroz mine in Argentina in late 2014.

The deal announced this week will inject the capital needed to more than double production at Oloroz, from 17,500 tonnes per year to 42,500 tonnes per year.

“Lithium demand is expected to continue growing with the shift from fossil-fuel powered vehicles to electric vehicles,” Toyota Tsusho said, “in addition to the steady growth of lithium-ion batteries for electric devices.”

The price of lithium has more than doubled in recent years.

“Through this investment, Toyota Tsusho and Orocobre will elevate their existing long term project partnership to a new level of strategic alliance.”

Toyota Tsusho also said it would develop its value chain via a joint investment in a Japanese lithium hydroxide plant.

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