Mitsui invests in Atlas Lithium with offtake deal from Brazil mine

Mitsui invests in Atlas Lithium with offtake deal from Brazil mine
Mitsui & Co said on Thursday it will spend $30 million to take a 12% stake in US-based Atlas Lithium to venture into Brazil’s lithium mines to tap demand for the battery mineral.

The deal by the Japanese trading house follows a similar one unveiled by rival Mitsubishi Corp this month to buy a stake in the PAK lithium project of Canadian miner Frontier Lithium.

Mitsui said it would subscribe to a $30 million third-party allocation of new shares by Atlas and gain the right to offtake lithium spodumene concentrate.

Atlas is developing the Neves project in Brazil’s Lithium Valley in the state of Minas Gerais. It is one of the largest lithium tenement holders in Brazil.

The Neves project is expected to start production of spodumene concentrate in the fourth quarter of 2024, with annual production to reach 300,000 metric tons after an expansion in late 2025, enough to be used in about 1 million electric vehicles (EVs), Mitsui said.

Mitsui will offtake a total of 315,000 tons of concentrate in about 5 years.

“As Atlas owns more than 50 blocks in the valley, we see the upside potential,” Akinobu Hashimoto, general manager of Mitsui’s new metals & aluminium division, told reporters.

He highlighted the short period from investment to production initiation and the lower development costs compared to those in Australia as key attractive points.

The deal marks Mitsui’s first investment in lithium and comes as part of its strategy to build battery material value chains encompassing development, production, and recycling.

Mitsui aims to expand its lithium portfolio by engaging in additional upstream and conversion projects, while also eyeing investments in other battery minerals such as nickel and manganese, Hashimoto said.

The deal is set for completion in April.

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