Chinese company Zijin Mining Group has agreed in principle to a deal with Catamarca Minera y Energetica Sociedad del Estado (Camyen), a unit of state owned energy and chemicals firm YPF, to build a lithium processing plant in Argentina.

The two companies were understood to be in advanced talks to build a factory in the Catamarca region with capacity for 50,000 tons of lithium iron phosphate for use as electric vehicle (EV) battery cathodes. If the agreement is finalised, the facility was expected to be completed in 2024.

Argentina is part of South America’s ‘lithium triangle’, a rich area including Bolivia and Peru. The government is keen to make the most of its rich natural resources to cash in on the rapid growth in global demand for lithium-ion batteries.

Earlier this month the government said it expected the country’s first battery plant to be running by September, using lithium sourced from US miner Livent.

Zijin is developing a lithium mine in the Tres Quebradas (3Q) region of Catamarca which was scheduled to be producing in the fourth quarter of 2023.

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