Tesla supplier CATL wins exploration rights to lithium project in China

Tesla China’s battery supplier Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) won a bid for exploration rights to a lithium clay project located in Yichun through its subsidiary Yichun Contemporary Amperex Resources Limited. The bid cost RMB 856 million (about $134.8 million).

The lithium clay project is located in the Huaqiao Town of Yifeng County and Shangfu Town of Fengxin County, which spans an area of 6.44 square kilometers (644 hectares). CATL estimated that the deposit contains about 2.66 million tonnes of lithium metal oxide in the 960.25 million tonnes of porcelain clay minerals in the area.

“CATL will speed up the exploration and development of lithium mineral resources and increase the supply of lithium in a bid to bring the prices of lithium related raw materials back to a reasonable level while ensuring the security of national strategic mineral resources, and help Yichun build a new energy industry system ranging from lithium resources, lithium-ion battery materials, EV batteries to electric vehicles so as to develop the city into a sustainable lithium-ion battery hub in Asia,” noted the Tesla battery supplier.

During the Q1 2022 earnings call, Elon Musk explained that Tesla believes mining and refining lithium might be a limiting factor to producing more electric vehicles in the future. Tesla CFO Zachary Kirkhorn noted that costs related to raw materials experienced an uptick in the first quarter and then increased a little more in Q2.

“We’re looking carefully at all of the raw materials and trying to figure out how we can accelerate the total amount of raw materials needed to transition the world to sustainability,” Musk said.

Tesla has secured lithium supply deals with companies in Australia and Ganfeng Lithium Co Ltd in China. Previously, Elon Musk hinted that Tesla is seriously considering the idea of mining and refining lithium directly. Tesla has mentioned entering the mining market in the past, but seems to be more serious about the idea now.

Tesla’s current prices consider the rising costs of raw materials in the future as cars ordered today will be delivered sometime in the coming months. As of this writing, the Model S and Model 3’s delivery estimates for custom orders are July to October 2022. The Model Y’s custom delivery estimates are even later in October 2022 to January 2023. Meanwhile, the Model X is nearly sold out for this year, with delivery estimates in December 2022 to March 2023.

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