December 1, 2019 / 11:59 PM / 10 days ago

Blackstone Minerals partners with S. Korean firm for lithium ion battery production

Dec 2 (Reuters) - Australia’s Blackstone Minerals Ltd on Monday said it signed a non-binding joint venture agreement with South Korea’s Ecopro BM Co to develop nickel, cobalt or other minerals for battery manufacturing.

The Western Australia-based firm said Ecopro BM, South Korea’s largest electric vehicle battery cathode producer, will develop a downstream processing facility with Blackstone’s Ta Khoa Nickel Project in Vietnam. “Our Ta Khoa Nickel Project has significant potential to deliver the critical raw materials required for Ecopro’s cathode manufacturing process and meet the ever-increasing demand for high-nickel content cathodes driven by the imminent electric vehicle (EV) revolution,” Blackstone’s Managing Director Scott Williamson said.

The MoU comes amid increasing headwinds in the lithium industry with sales of EVs in China, the world’s largest market, falling nearly a third in September.

Australia has billed itself as a key supplier for minerals critical to future industries like EVs and green power, but developers hoping to move into battery chemicals production have struggled to secure project finance.

Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes

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