April 18, 2018 / 3:06 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-China's Beijing Easpring looks for more cobalt, nickel offtake deals

(Adds background and details)

SHANGHAI, April 18 (Reuters) - China’s Beijing Easpring Material Technology Co Ltd is looking for additional nickel and cobalt offtake agreements to sustain growth in cathode materials production for electric vehicle batteries, its general manager said on Wednesday.

“We are also looking for other partners to ensure supply of nickel and cobalt,” Li Jianzhong said at a business forum in Shanghai, when asked if the company had appetite for more supply beyond the offtake deal it signed with Australia’s Clean Teq Holdings Ltd last year.

In August 2017, Easpring signed a five-year offtake agreement with Clean Teq for around 20 percent of cobalt sulphate and nickel sulphate output from its Syerston project in Australia.

Li did not say when Easpring would start to receive supply from Australia.

Both nickel and cobalt are key ingredients in electric vehicle batteries.

The company is also looking to source material from Africa, including top cobalt producer the Democratic Republic of Congo, as Australian offtake alone will not be enough, Li told Reuters on the sidelines of the forum.

Easpring expects China’s cobalt demand to grow about 9 percent from last year to 680,000 tonnes in 2018, Li said in a presentation. (Reporting by Tom Daly and Meng Meng; writing by Beijing Monitoring Desk; editing by Richard Pullin)

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