Chinese firm acquires lucrative lithium mine for US$1, 75 billion

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By Alois Vinga

CHINA Natural Resources has acquired a lithium mine, Williams Minerals at a cost of US$1, 75 billion from Feishang Group and Top Pacific (China).

This comes on the back of rising demand for lithium, a safe and reliable resource in a global market where the appetite for renewable energy continues to grow.

Feishang Group controls 70% stake in Williams Minerals while Top Pacific (China) holds a 30% stake and also holds a controlling stake in China Natural Resources (CNR).

Under the agreement, CNR will indirectly acquire all interests in Williams Minerals in the second quarter of this fiscal year.

From 2024 through 2026, the company’s ownership of the lithium mine in Zimbabwe will vest cumulatively, region by region.

This is, however, subject to the issuance of independent technical reports and the company’s full settlement of cash and restricted shares related to the transaction.

CNR is planning to issue restricted shares as 50% of the deal consideration. The remaining 50% of the consideration includes a promissory note and/or cash, for a maximum consideration of $1.75bn.

 “The company will pay an aggregate of $35m by way of promissory notes and/or cash as a deposit if it chooses to proceed with the acquisition after completion of due diligence, and an aggregate of $140m by way of promissory notes and/or cash as an initial installment,” said CNR.

CNR said there was no certainty that the transaction would be closed under the current terms. The deal is expected to be closed in the second fiscal quarter of 2023.

Zimbabwe, which has Africa’s largest lithium deposits, thinks it can do better from the price surge. Its Bikita mine, 300 km south of the capital Harare, boasts 10,8 million tonnes of lithium ore and the Arcadia Lithium Mine is expected to reach an annual production of 2,5 million tonnes, which could equate to US$3 billion in exports.