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The French mining group Eramet will open a lithium carbonate extraction plant in Argentina in 2024 with its partner, the Chinese steelmaker Tsingshan. He is thus relaunching a project that was cocooned during the pandemic. The aim is to meet the strong worldwide demand for this rare metal, an essential component of electric vehicle batteries.

It is an important deposit that Eramet owns in Argentina, at an altitude of 3,800 meters in the northeast of the country. By building a factory there, the French mining group aims to produce 24,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate per year for 40 years, enough to ensure, for example, 15% of European needs.

Eramet would thus become the first European company to operate a large, durable, high-capacity lithium industrial complex. Sustainable, because the group plans to use an innovative extraction method that uses less water than conventional exploitation, the one used for example in what is called the lithium triangle formed by Argentina and Chile. and Bolivia. These three countries alone are home to more than half of the world’s reserves. Except that this metal is found there in arid regions.

A constantly increasing demand for lithium

For Euramet, the decision to invest in this project is part of a dynamic of strong market growth. Indeed, the lithium supply cannot meet the demand which does not cease increasing, even causing a shortage at this moment on the world market. Consequence: the price of lithium carbonate soars. The reason ? It is an essential element for the manufacture of batteries.

Lithium is thus whetting the appetites of the automobile industry, which is in the process of abandoning heat engines in favor of electric cars. It is estimated that 75% of vehicles produced in Europe will be electric in 2030 and 40% globally. In this context, the global demand for lithium will explode. According to Euramet, it will even be multiplied by six by 2030.



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