Chinese electric car battery king urges Beijing to speed up lithium mining.
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The chairman of Contemporary New Energy Technology Co Ltd said that Beijing needs to strengthen lithium mining to ensure the long-term security of the rare earth element supply chain.
Zeng Yuqun, chairman of China’s largest electric vehicle battery maker, suggested that the Chinese government in Beijing should speed up the “exploration and development” of domestic lithium resources to ensure supply chain security amid a global shortage of rare earth metals, which is being made worse as more and more people are turning to electric vehicles.
The chairman of Contemporary New Energy Technology Co Ltd, who once represented China’s top political advisory body the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, listed lithium development as one of his proposals to the authorities.
Lithium, a key metal used in electric vehicle batteries, must be part of China’s overall “national security” plan, he said.
Jiang Weiping, chairman of Tianqi Lithium, China’s leading manufacturer of lithium mines and products, suggested that the country should speed up the mining of lithium resources in the southwestern province of Sichuan, one of the most abundant and accessible regions in China.
Beijing urged to speed up lithium mining.
China is facing a severe lithium supply and demand situation, and the country needs to work harder to secure its supply chain, according to an outline of the proposal released by Contemporary New Energy Technology Co Ltd.
“Lithium resources are the core raw materials for lithium batteries, and it is strategically important to understand and secure the supply of primary products for these batteries,” Zeng wrote.
Thanks to Beijing’s promotion of the domestic electric vehicle industry, Contemporary New Energy Technology Co Ltd has become the world’s largest supplier of electric vehicle batteries. Contemporary New Energy Technology Co Ltd also supplies batteries to U.S. giant Tesla in China.
The International Energy Agency estimates that if the world meets its climate goals, global demand for lithium will increase by more than 4,000% by 2040.
In China, lithium prices have soared, with spot prices up more than 2 million yuan ($316,000) a tonne in the past month, more than four times the price a year ago.
The U.S. aims for electric vehicles to account for half of the country’s car and truck sales by 2030, and underscores the metal’s importance as it seeks to reduce its reliance on China.
Washington has said that China’s dominance in lithium refining “poses a serious vulnerability to the future of the U.S. domestic auto industry.”
According to the 2022 Mineral Commodities Summary, China processes two-thirds of the world’s lithium and is currently the largest buyer and investor in the world’s lithium mines, including Latin America and Australia, which hold 64% of the world’s known lithium reserves according to a United States Geological Survey.
Sichuan province has one of the richest and most accessible lithium reserves in China, and sourcing the key resource from there will reduce the country’s reliance on imports.
The Jiajika deposit in Sichuan is one of the largest spodumene deposits in Asia—lithium-bearing rock. It is listed as the only nationally planned mining area by the National Mineral Resources Plan (2016-20) of the Ministry of Natural Resources of China.
China announced last month that it had discovered a huge lithium deposit in the Mount Everest region.
According to a team of scientists from the Institute of Geology and Geophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the deposit may contain up to 1,012,500 tons of lithium oxide.
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