Rosatom subsidiary signs deal to develop lithium deposit in Argentina

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Continuing with the process of diversification of its clean energy business, the Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom’s subsidiary Uranium One Holding has entered into an agreement with Alpha Lithium Corporation to establish a joint venture to develop the Tolillar lithium deposit in Argentina, according to a Rosatom release. 

The 27,500-hectare deposit is located in the Argentine province of Salta within the world famous “lithium triangle”, Rosatom said. The region is rich in hydromineral raw materials with a high concentration of lithium 

Signed on November 29, 2021, “the agreement provides for the initial subscription for shares in Alpha One Lithium B.V. by Uranium One Holding for consideration of USD 30 million, which will result in Uranium One Holding and Alpha Lithium Corporation each holding 15 percent and 85 percent, respectively”, the statement said.  

“The main asset of Alpha One Lithium comprises the 100 percent stake in the Argentine project company Alpha Argentina S.A., which owns the exploration and production rights for the Tolillar lithium deposit”, it added.  

According to Rosatom, Uranium One Holding will have the option to invest an additional $185 million which would result in its shareholding in Alpha One Lithium increasing to 50 percent, on exercising which option, Uranium One Holding will be entitled to 100 percent off-take of the project’s production. 

This transaction forms part of Uranium One’s business diversification strategy, which provides for the development of rare and rare-earth important metals associated with the supply of raw materials to high-tech industries. 

“Lithium is an essential material for the provision of resources for the green economy of the future. The development of this line of business is strategically important for Rosatom. We plan to develop the deposit, taking into account the interests of local communities, using innovative technologies that have minimal impact on the environment, and supporting scientific and technical cooperation programs. We are currently evaluating other rare and important metal deposits”, Uranium One Group President Andrey Shutov said in a statement. 

Uranium One’s proven ability to execute large-scale industrial projects and extensive global experience in operating mining and processing facilities will prove to be invaluable in ensuring the successful development and operation of the Tolillar project”, said Alpha President Brad Nichol. 

Earlier this year, Rosatom’s integrator company for the energy storage business, Renera, which is a subsidiary of Rosatom’s fuel arm TVEL, announced that it will build its 3-gigawatt (GWh) lithium-ion battery manufacturing facility in Russia’s Kaliningrad region.  

The factory is expected to start manufacturing in 2026 and to produce lithium-ion batteries based on a technology developed by South Korean manufacturer of electrodes, lithium-ion storage cells and energy storage systems, Enertech International, in which Rosatom acquired a 49 percent stake earlier this year.  

Rosatom set up Renera in October last year as part of the diversification of its clean energy business, and in line with this strategy, the state-run company, which is Russia’s biggest electricity provider, purchased 49 percent stake in Enertech International in April 2021.    

In comparison with lead-acid batteries, lithium-ion storage systems allow several times faster accumulation and release of energy, the number of their operating cycles is three times longer, they are compact and do not require maintenance. According to Bloomberg forecasts, the annual demand for lithium-ion batteries in the next 10 years will grow 10 times, and by 2031, will amount to more than 2,000 GWh.