Rosatom Subsidiary to Acquire Controlling Stake in Chile Lithium Project

On Octo­ber 15, Rosatom’s min­ing sub­sidiary, Ura­ni­um One, signed a mem­o­ran­dum of under­stand­ing with Canada’s Wealth Min­er­als that gives it the right to buy a con­trol­ling stake in a major lithi­um project in Chile’s Ata­ca­ma desert.  Wealth Mineral’s deci­sion to sign the agree­ment is moti­vat­ed in part by Ura­ni­um One’s pos­ses­sion of pro­cess­ing tech­nol­o­gy that uses a cat­a­lyst mate­r­i­al to extract lithi­um, avoid­ing the need for time-con­sum­ing solar explo­ration.  Rosatom said it was inter­est­ed in lithi­um projects in gen­er­al “as part of the sup­ply chain of the expo­nen­tial­ly grow­ing sus­tain­able ener­gy sec­tor.”  A spokesman added, “We use lithi­um as a raw mate­r­i­al in our pro­duc­tion and high val­ue-added man­u­fac­tur­ing so inte­gra­tion into lithi­um min­ing is an organ­ic step for­ward.”

In May 2018, Rosatom’s over­seas coop­er­a­tion office signed an MoU with Chile’s Com­mis­sion on Nuclear Ener­gy on coop­er­a­tion in Chile’s nuclear and lithi­um sec­tors, poten­tial­ly lay­ing the ground­work for this devel­op­ment.  Ura­ni­um One’s like­ly acqui­si­tion comes as for­eign investors com­pete to win a part of Chile’s lithi­um resources, which are cru­cial in the devel­op­ment of bat­tery tech­nol­o­gy.  China’s Tian­qi Lithi­um signed a $4 bil­lion deal in Decem­ber 2018 to acquire a minor­i­ty stake in Chilean lithi­um com­pa­ny SQM.