China’s Tianqi Lithium acquired a 23.77 percent stake in Chilean lithium giant Chemical & Mining Co. of Chile (SQM) for US$4.0 billion. China is therefore one step closer to having a monopoly position in the lithium mining market. This rare metal has the reputation of being the “oil of the 21st century” because it is indispensable for the batteries that charge virtually every electronic product, computers, cell phones, and electric cars.
SQM is the world’s largest lithium producer, accounting for nearly a quarter of all global production. Tianqi Lithium also has shares in Australia’s Albemarle Corp., the world’s second-largest lithium producer. If added to the production of Tianqi Lithium itself, the Chinese company would control 70 percent of the global market for this precious metal.
For China, it is important to control such an important raw material around the world. Liu Ying, a researcher at the Chongyang Financial Research Institute of Renmin University of China, believes that the demand for lithium in the future can only grow. The world will gradually abandon oil and switch to new energy sources, mainly electricity. Nothing has been found to replace the lithium which is necessary for the production of storage batteries. A monopoly of the lithium market would have a very attractive future.
Sputnik News, December 6, 2018