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Lithium specialist Bacanora eyes European production

London β€” With Europe now strategically positioning for electric vehicles, Bacanora Lithium said Wednesday it has identified a potential 5,112 mt/year asset in Germany which could supply metal to the production process.

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Bacanora said a feasibility study highlighted the solid economics for investing in the Zinnwald lithium fluoride operation.

"The operation is forecast to generate Eur 58.5 million EBITDA ($66 million) per annum or Eur1.75 billion over the 30 year life of mine compared to construction costs estimated at Eur159 million. Bacanora will now look to develop Zinnwald and is actively considering a public listing for the subsidiary which holds the project," it said.

Bacanora acquired an initial 50% interest in Deutsche Lithium GmbH, the owner of Zinnwald, in February 2017 and has an option to acquire the outstanding 50% it does not own by February 2020.

Bacanora CEO Peter Secker said: "We are keen to realize the project's potential to become a leading supplier to the fast-growing European battery and automotive sectors at the earliest opportunity. We are already working hard to secure strategic partners to develop the project and are actively considering a public listing for Deutsche Lithium."

There has been talk Europe and the US were being left behind as China powers ahead with investments and partnerships across the globe.

"I would say that [the] German EV battery industry is about five years behind the Chinese," Secker recently told S&P Global in an interview, adding that three years ago he would have been far more downbeat about the outlook for Europe and its battery investment.

The EU is keen to develop a domestic manufacturing base for lithium-ion and other batteries as its battery market could be worth up to Eur250 billion in 2025.

The European Investment Bank this month agreed in principle to lend Eur350 million to support Northvolt's lithium-ion battery cell gigafactory in Skelleftea, Sweden -- the first such facility planned in Europe.

--Ben Kilbey, ben.kilbey@spglobal.com

--Edited by Daniel Lalor, newsdesk@spglobal.com