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Eramet eyes expansion into battery minerals

Eramet is looking to buy lithium deposits in Chile, Argentina and Brazil to expand its footprint into the minerals required for producing electric vehicle batteries, Reuters reported July 5.

"Our priority is to develop our existing lithium deposit in Argentina," said CEO Christel Bories.

The French company plans to make an investment decision on its Cuenca Centenario-Ratones lithium project in Argentina in the first half of 2019, with the proposed investment estimated at around €400 million, the executive added.

"If we make a decision in the beginning of next year, we'll start spending then till the end of 2022," Bories said, noting that the company can "easily finance from its own cash."

The company flagged its interest in minerals such as lithium, cobalt and nickel salts linked to energy transition markets earlier in the year.

Eramet is also looking for potential cobalt targets, and is in talks with several junior companies around the world, Bories added.

"It's not easy to find new cobalt deposits that are cost competitive compared to those in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. But we are looking for it."

Bories said the company is also interested in the battery recycling business including developing a way to recover lithium from batteries which is not currently available.