Chile lithium miner SQM reaches supply deal with Hyundai, Kia

SANTIAGO, (Reuters) – Chilean lithium miner SQM, the world’s second-largest lithium producer, said on Monday it had reached a long-term supply deal with Hyundai and Kia to provide the carmakers with the white metal, key for the production of electric vehicle batteries.

Hyundai and Kia will “secure a portion of (their) future lithium hydroxide supply from SQM,” the miner, which has previously landed supply deals with Ford Motors and battery maker LG Energy, said in a statement.

SQM did not give financial details of the deal with the Korean automakers, but said there was “strong motivation to continue with (its) lithium hydroxide expansion plan.”

The miner’s current Chilean capacity for lithium hydroxide, made from lithium carbonate, is at 40,000 metric tons per year, according to its first-quarter results.

SQM is on track to boost output in Chile to 100,000 tons in 2025. It is also building up capacity in China and Australia.

At the end of May, SQM signed an agreement with Chilean state-run miner Codelco to form a joint venture that will let SQM boost output through 2060 at the Salar de Atacama, one of the world’s most prized areas for extracting lithium.

Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Kylie Madry; Editing by Sarah Morland and Alexander Smith