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Russia Races Ahead: Fast-Tracking Domestic Lithium Project Amid U.S. Sanctions

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Russia is fast-tracking its domestic lithium development project. Amid difficulties in lithium supply due to U.S. sanctions, it is accelerating the establishment of its supply network.

According to industry insiders, on the 10th, Polar Lithium CEO Igor Demidov announced at a conference held in St. Petersburg, Russia, on the 6th that the lithium production project, initially planned for 2030, will be brought forward by 3-4 years.

Polar Lithium is a joint venture established by Rosatom, a Russian state-owned nuclear corporation, and Nornickel, the world’s largest nickel producer. It is developing the Kolmozero lithium mine, located northwest of Russia.

This project is focused on developing Russia’s first lithium mine with the ultimate goal of producing lithium-ion batteries domestically. By 2030, the project will produce 45,000 tons of lithium carbonate and hydroxide annually.

Polar Lithium plans to bring forward the development of the Kolmozero lithium mine to 2026-2027 after shareholder approval later this month. It aims to initiate the first production phase at 10% of the total planned capacity in pilot mode.

Demidov remarked that lithium is undoubtedly emerging as the “oil of the 21st century.” He added that there would be an acceleration in the development of lithium mines and the establishment of production facilities to tap into this critical resource.

Since U.S. sanctions in 2022, Russia has been importing lithium carbonate from Bolivia and China after supply cuts from Chile and Argentina. Consequently, Russia is putting efforts into establishing its supply network to reduce its dependence on imports and battery components.

Last year, an oversupply of lithium occurred due to sluggish global electric vehicle sales, causing lithium prices to plummet. Despite this, Russia is showing enthusiasm for domestic lithium production.

Consulting firm Benchmark Mineral Intelligence predicts a global oversupply of lithium from this year until 2027. By 2030, it is projected that there will be a shortage of approximately 400,000 tons of lithium carbonate.

theguru
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