Chinese Huayou Cobalt Seeks Lithium To Expand Mineral Portfolio For Batteries, Auto News, ET Auto



Huayou Cobalt sources its cobalt from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which supplies more than 70% of the world’s cobalt.

BEIJING: Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt is looking to invest in lithium mining and processing, its executive vice president told Reuters, as China’s largest cobalt refiner strives to increase production of minerals for the electric vehicle (EV) market.

“We will pay more attention, not only to nickel and cobalt, but also to the development of lithium resources, both inside and outside China,” said George Fang in an interview for the next Reuters IMPACT conference.

Huayou Cobalt was studying lithium opportunities, with its partners, in Africa, Australia, South America and the western region of China, Tibet. Fang did not disclose the targeted assets or the possible size of transactions.

“We want to be one of the industry leaders in lithium battery materials,” Fang said of the company, which has nickel and cobalt projects in Indonesia and precursor cathode and cathode projects. lithium nickel manganese cobalt (NCM) in China.

Huayou Cobalt sources its cobalt from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which supplies more than 70% of the world’s cobalt.

The company’s Chinese peers, including China Molybdenum, Zijin Mining and Tsingshan Holding Group, are also looking to diversify into lithium.

PT Huayue, the company’s first nickel and cobalt project using High Pressure Acid Leaching (HPAL) technology on Indonesia’s Sulawesi Island, is a joint venture between Huayou, stainless steel giant Tsingshan Holding Group and China Molybdenum. It’s set to go live at the end of this year, Fang said.

Its other project in Weda Bay on Halmahera Island using HPAL technology, designed to be less energy-intensive, will join many such factories coming to Indonesia, the world’s largest nickel miner.

Indonesia has banned nickel ore exports from 2020 to process more resources at home and build a full supply chain of batteries for electric vehicles.

At the Weda Bay project, Huayou has an annual capacity of about 120,000 tonnes of nickel grade, twice the size of the Huayue plant, and more than 10,000 tonnes of cobalt. Construction will take another two years, Fang said.

He added that the company was planning to set up a solar power generator for this project and had decided not to use deep sea tailings management for its projects in Indonesia.

He expects this second HPAL project, which is a joint venture with Tsingshan and EVE Energy, to be commissioned “around mid-2023, maybe a little earlier,” and said the ramp-up until ‘to full production could take six to twelve months.

Huayou plans to “significantly” reduce carbon emissions over the next three to five years. Fang did not specify the extent of the reductions, but said the company would be ahead of peak carbon 2030 and carbon neutrality targets of 2060.

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