Argentine oil company YPF glimpses lithium deals with Chinese firm CATL

FILE PHOTO.  Referential image of brine pools used to extract lithium in the Salar del Rincón, in Salta, Argentina.  August 12, 2021. REUTERS / Agustín Marcarian
FILE PHOTO. Referential image of brine pools used to extract lithium in the Salar del Rincón, in Salta, Argentina. August 12, 2021. REUTERS / Agustín Marcarian

BUENOS AIRES, Nov 25 (Reuters) – The state-owned company YPF met on Thursday with representatives of the Chinese battery manufacturer CATL in an effort to boost the lithium industry, in a meeting in which both sides considered the possibility of becoming allies. ” strategic “. The South American country, part of the region called the “lithium triangle,” is trying to increase production of the ultralight metal that is key to the electric vehicle revolution, with the state set to play a central role through YPF. China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL) is the world’s largest manufacturer of electric vehicle batteries, but it does not produce lithium. It was recently outbid in an offer by the mining company Millennial Lithium Corp, focused on Argentina. Demand for electric vehicle battery metal is increasing around the world and prices have skyrocketed this year. Automakers and battery suppliers are increasingly trying to secure supply. “YPF can be a strategic partner with CATL at the local level in this new phase dedicated to the lithium of our flagship company,” Argentine Mining Secretary Alberto Hensel said in a statement. CATL vice president Chen Junwei said in the statement that “the company is focusing more on resources such as lithium” and that its representatives had visited salt flats in Argentina, where the metal is extracted in the country.

“We are going to need the support of Argentina and YPF as a strategic partner in lithium,” he said.

The president of YPF, Pablo González, said that “CATL is a great opportunity to undertake joint developments”. He added that YPF, which specializes in hydrocarbons, is inspecting areas with lithium potential in the northern provinces of Jujuy, Salta and Catamarca to explore them, and would seek investors to develop them.

(Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Edited in Spanish by Nicolás Misculin)

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