China’s $23b Great Wall invests in WA lithium

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One of China’s largest automotive manufacturers is backing the expansion of a lithium-tantalum project in Western Australia.

The Great Wall Motor Company has agreed a $28 million upfront equity subscription to Pilbara Minerals, under-pinning support of second-phase production to the company’s Pilgangoora mine.

“This marks an important milestone for Pilbara and Pilgangoora project and is a significant development for the rapidly evolving lithium-ion raw materials supply chain, globally,” said Pilbara’s managing director and CEO, Ken Brinsden.

“It highlights the strategic importance for the global automotive sector of securing access to large scale, consistent, high quality sources of battery raw materials in low-risk jurisdictions.

“While this deal reflects the remarkable progress being made in China, we are also witnessing increasing interest from battery and automobile manufacturers outside of China looking to secure their future lithium requirements.”

This is in response to an “increasing global market shift” towards electric vehicles and off-grid storage, Brinsden continued.

Great Wall is listed on the stock exchanges in Hong Kong and Shanghai, reaching a market value of US$18.1 billion (A$23 billion), including four vehicle-manufacturing bases and 60,000 workers.

“Attracting a company of Great Wall’s size and caliber as a long-term off-take and funding partner is a strong endorsement for the Pilgangoora project,” Brinsden said.