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China's Yichun Yinli raises lithium carbonate capacity

09 Feb 2018 15:25 GMT
China's Yichun Yinli raises lithium carbonate capacity

Beijing, 9 February (Argus) — China's Yichun Yinli New Energy has raised its production capacity for lithium carbonate to meet growing demand from manufacturers of batteries for electric vehicles.

Yichun Yinli, a subsidiary of state-owned Jiangxi Special Motor Group, started pilot production at the new 5,000 t/yr line in September last year. It is now operating at full capacity.

It extracts lithium carbonate from spodumene and lipidolite. The new production line has brought its total carbonate capacity to 8,000 t/yr. It may add another 10,000 t/yr in the longer term, depending on market conditions.

Lithium prices fell at the start of this year because of a rise in spot supply after steady increases over the past two years prompted producers to raise capacity. But potential changes to Beijing's policy on developing the battery sector could support demand in the longer term.

Another Jiangxi Special Motor subsidiary, Weier Antriebeund Energietechnik, in Germany completed the purchase of an 11.45pc stake in the Tawana lithium mine in Australia. The mine can produce up to 155,000 t/yr of lithium concentrate and is expected to make the first shipment to China in the first quarter of this year.

Jiangxi Special Motor received a 55.2mn yuan ($8.8mn) government subsidy last year to fund the development of new energy products.

Fast growth in China's production of pure electric and hybrid vehicles has driven up demand for lithium-ion battery and sales are expected to reach 125GWh by 2025. Large producers including Ganfeng and Tianqi are also raising their lithium salt capacities.

Beijing is targeting 40pc growth in electric and hybrid vehicle production this year to 1mn, up by 26pc from 794,000 in 2017.