Holding Group, a Chinese firm, is among the latest entrants to the white-hot
lithium sector, potentially making it a one-stop shop for electric vehicle (EV)
predominantly a stainless-steel maker, came out of nowhere to become the
world's top nickel producer in 2018 due to its pioneering use of low-grade
nickel pig iron. With fellow Chinese company Chengxin Lithium Group Co, it will
produce 60,000 tonnes per year of lithium chemicals at a lithium processing
facility in Indonesia. Chengxin has said in a company filing, about the first
announcement of such a plant in the country.
Added to the
battery-grade nickel and cobalt production already under development at its
Indonesia facilities, the lithium supplies would make Tsingshan a major scale
producer of three key ingredients required for EV and other rechargeable
batteries. Tsingshan did not respond to a request for comment on its lithium
plans. A company executive told Reuters that, the battery business will become
a new core business.
owns 35% of the project, and Chengxin 65%. The partners will use their own
funds for 30% of the financing for the $350-million plant, with 70% to come
from loans, according to the filing. No start date for the lithium plant has
been given, and it still faces challenges. A Chengxin official told Reuters it
will need 450,000 tonnes of lithium concentrate annually for the project, all
from hard-rock lithium ore. Unlike nickel and cobalt, which are found around
Tsingshan's operations in Indonesia, no known lithium deposits are being mined
in the country. That means the partners will need to look overseas for supply
of lithium-rich minerals such as spodumene to feed the plant.