25 Apr 2022 17:31

Potanin: Nornickel adding lithium to portfolio, to strengthen foothold in battery industry

MOSCOW. April 25 (Interfax) - Norilsk Nickel is adding lithium to its metals portfolio and will strengthen its foothold as a key supplier for the lithium-ion battery industry, the company quoted its president, Vladimir Potanin, as saying.

"Nornickel's products have long played an important role in the creation of energy storage devices. By expanding our metals portfolio to include such an important and sought-after raw material as lithium we intend to strengthen our foothold as a key supplier to the battery industry," Potanin said.

Cooperation between Nornickel and the state Rosatom corporation will enable Russian industry to make a step forward in the development of the country's own production of efficient, modern batteries, Potanin said.

Rosatom and Nornickel signed an agreement on Monday on joint projects to develop the Kolmozerskoye lithium deposit in the Murmansk region and to process the lithium raw material mined there.

This will give Russia the opportunity to start its own lithium industry and production of lithium-ion batteries. The country does not currently mine lithium.

Kolmozoryskoye contains 18.9% of Russia's lithium reserves and is the country's most promising lithium deposit. It has not yet been licensed.

Rosatom and Nornickel plan to form a joint venture on an equal footing and with equal corporate governance principles which will combine the competencies of the partners and will bid at an auction for the Kolmozerskoye license.

The deposit contains niobium, tantalum and beryllium besides lithium. The Natural Resources Ministry has put it up for auction but no interested parties could be found due to the hefty starting price, the ministry said this year.

Rosatom's Atomredmetzoloto or ARMZ, which mines uranium, said at the start of this year that it was choosing a pilot field to launch a lithium project in 2022.

Reports said last summer that ARMZ planned to mine lithium in Russia and possibly to take part in such projects abroad. The Kommersant newspaper said the company might start mining lithium compounds in the Murmansk and Irkutsk regions by 2030, investing more than 50 billion rubles and producing up to 50,000 tonnes per year.

Rosatom's Uranium One had also planned to start mining lithium in 2023, and to control a tenth of the world market by 2030, Sergei Polgorodnik, head of Techsnapexport, said in an interview with the Strana Rosatom in-house newspaper.