German company HMS Bergbau AG plans to invest $700 million in lithium extraction in Kazakhstan after gaining control over a local company that owns two relevant deposits in the country, according to the Minister of Industry and Infrastructure Development, Marat Kairbekov.
“The German company Bergbau, listed in Europe, has acquired a 51% stake in a Kazakhstani company. Now the German company becomes the main participant… They have a lithium deposit. One has been acquired in the east (of Kazakhstan). Exploration has already been conducted there. Currently, their geologists are studying the area,” he told journalists.
According to Kairbekov, the Kazakhstani partner will gain certain expertise through cooperation with the European company. However, the possibility of lithium-ion battery production will depend on the lithium resources in the two deposits where the German company has gained control.
“Lithium batteries for electric cars are a second stage. Certainly, we cannot say that we will produce batteries. It all depends on the reserves and whether there are enough of them to establish large-scale production,” Kairbekov said.
The Minister noted that this is the first German company to engage in rare earth metals in Kazakhstan, while Chinese companies are already operating in the sector.
“One German company is entering two major lithium deposits. The expected volume of investments is around $700 million. This is in East Kazakhstan. German geologists are already working there,” Kairbekov said.
He also mentioned that Kazakhstani companies supply several critical materials to the European Union, particularly titanium.
At the same time, the Minister considers Chinese companies, which already operate in Kazakhstan, to be highly competitive. According to him, Chinese companies process over 70% of all rare earth metals in the world. Companies from Canada and South Korea also show great interest in Kazakhstani rare earth metals.
However, Kairbekov believes that Kazakhstan will sell deposits only to those who offer better conditions.
“For us, the priority will be given to those who offer better conditions. Certain types of rare metals, for example, will be sold at auctions… You can participate from anywhere in the world. The best offer, the highest payment, will win the bid. But it is even more important to organize production afterward,” he said.
According to him, new projects for the development of rare earth metals and other critical materials will need to meet UN standards. Kazakhstan is already discussing this possibility with the UN. These requirements will be additional to the existing Kazakhstan standards for mining projects.
The Minister noted that 40 European companies have shown interest in working with Kazakhstan’s critical materials.
“Kazakhstani companies already process 16 metals. 40 European companies have arrived. Around 50 companies are involved. There are manufacturers, such as Ust-Kamenogorsk Titanium-Magnesium Plant, Kazcink, and Ulbinsky Metallurgical Plant. They are the manufacturers who produce. There are also entrepreneurs who have deposits but are not yet engaged in extraction. There are about 50 such companies that are in discussions among themselves,” he said.
On June 21, it was reported that Kazakhstani company Creada Corporation and German company HMS Bergbau AG reached an agreement on investments and the development of a project for exploration, mining, and processing of complex rare metal ores in East Kazakhstan. Rare metals are an important component for the production of high-tech products such as electronics, magnets, batteries, and other innovative items. The planned cost of the project is $200 million. According to eGov data as of July 4, Creada Corporation is fully owned by KAZ Lithium LTD, registered in the International Financial Center “Astana,” with undisclosed ultimate beneficiaries.
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