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Benchmark: Saudi Arabia is building an EV battery supply chain

Saudi Arabia has cut a number of deals recently that coud make the country’s lithiu-ion supply chain the most developed in the Middle East, according to an analysis by Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.

Saudi Arabia’s ambitions for an EV supply chain are part of the diversification of the national economy away from oil, a project guided by the government’s Vision 2030 reform plan announced in 2016. Although the Saudi government has been investing into the EV sector since 2018, the midstream and upstream segments are still in their early stages, Benchmark noted.

The Saudi advantage lies in relatively low reagent costs and government incentives like tax, land, and capital support, said Benchmark consultant Ahmed Mehdi.

Among the deals:

  • June 2023: Australian startup European Lithium and Saudi Arabia’s Obeikan Investment Group announced an agreement to create a joint venture to build and operate a lithium hydroxide refinery in Saudi Arabia. (Earlier post.) The Saudi processing plant will process spodumene from a mine that European Lithium is developing in Wolfsberg, Austria.

    It will sell the lithium spodumene concentrate to the JV at a “reduced rate” with a floor price of $3,000 a tonne and a ceiling price of $7,000 a tonne over the life of the current resource of the Wolfsberg mine. Spodumene prices are currently around $3,650 a tonne, according to Benchmark’s Lithium Price Assessment.

    The mine is set to produce 3,610 tonnes (LCE) of lithium per year by 2030, as assessed by Benchmark.

  • May 2023: TAQAT Development announced a deal with Chevron Lummus Global to build a 75,000 tonne per annum nameplate capacity pet needle coke plant, with a graphitisation facility to produce synthetic graphite in Rabigh.

    TAQAT will use proprietary needle coke technology from Chevron Lummus, an oil refinery technology joint venture between oil major Chevron and refinery technology developer Lummus Technology. Rabigh Refining & Petrochemical Company will supply feedstock in the form of decant oil.

  • March 2023: Novonix announced a joint venture deal to build a 30,000 tonne capacity graphite anode materials facility with TAQAT Development, a Saudi energy company. Novonix will own 40% of the JV, and TAQAT the remainder. It will supply EV and energy storage systems (ESS) markets in the Middle East and North Africa region.

  • 2021: Saudi Arabia became the first Middle Eastern country to establish pipeline capacity in lithium processing by signing an agreement with EV Metals Groups to build a battery chemicals complex in Yanbu Industrial City. The site could produce 18,050 tonnes of lithium hydroxide by 2030, according to Benchmark’s Lithium Forecast. (Earlier post.)

Benchmark noted that the new facilities will likely sell to Saudi Arabia’s own EV manufacturing industry as well as markets in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.


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