China’s Ganfeng Lithium continues to expand its reach with Monday’s announcement that it will acquire a 50% stake of a special purpose vehicle set up by Australian-listed Firefinch Ltd., which owns the Goulamina hard-rock mine in Mali. Ganfeng will take at least half of its first-phase output as part of the $130 million deal.
Last year, a feasibility study was completed but a production start date has not been set yet. The Goulamina mine, laying about 150 km by road south of Mali’s capital Bamako has 108.5 tonnes of resources and high-grade spodumene concentrate, according to Firefinch’s presentation last month. The project is “one of the world’s highest-quality lithium assets”, and adds significant value to Ganfeng Lithium’s overall project portfolio.
For now, Genfeng will acquire offtake rights for 50% of the mine’s first-phase annual production capacity of 455,000 tonnes of spodumene concentrate, but has the option to acquire 100% if it helps Lithium du Mali raise debt or gives financial assistance to the company. On top of these terms, Mali’s government has the right to take 1-% of the equity free of charge and pay in cash for up to 10% more.
Ganfeng Lithium is one of the world’s largest lithium producers and could help the Mali-based company raise funds quickly. The Chinese company could help raise at least $64 million from banks or other financial institutions earmarked for development and construction of the mine, and has the option to provide the company with up to $40 million in direct financial assistance, according to a filing from Ganfeng.
Ganfeng lithium has projects in China, Mexico, Australia, Argentina, and Ireland. The company is one of the biggest lithium miners in the world and has significant sway in the African continent with so many projects and investments in the region. The company also signed a five-year deal last December with the Manono mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for spodumene concentrate, but does have an equity stake in the project.
With lithium being one of the most important elements for much of the technology in batteries powering everything from smartphones to electric vehicles, Ganfeng is mining a strategically important and economically valuable resource. Its partnerships and investments in Africa give it strong control of the mining and processing networks in the region, and it continues to expand around the world.