A Brazilian Iron State Wants to Lure Lithium Investors

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(Bloomberg) -- The Brazilian state with some of the world’s biggest iron ore mines wants to attract investors to its lithium deposits in a bid to feed growing demand for the key material in electric-vehicle batteries.

Minas Gerais will welcome “investors from all over the world” to Vale do Jequitinhonha, said Governor Romeu Zema in an interview, referring to the so-called lithium valley in the state.

Officials from the state and the country’s Ministry of Mines and Energy will meet with shareholders, bankers and traders during a roadshow at the Nasdaq Stock Market in New York on Tuesday. A meeting with executives from EV giant BYD Co. will also be on the agenda, according to the state government.

Efforts to promote private-sector projects come at a time when fellow South American nation Chile is transforming its model for lithium extraction and production, with the government seeking majority stakes in new contracts. Companies and governments around the world are also racing to build regional battery supply chains to meet surging EV demand and challenge China’s dominance.

“We want to export processed lithium, ready to be used in batteries,” said Zema, adding that the state plans to build an industrial hub that adds value to its mineral resources. “The analogy is selling steel not iron ore.”

A wealthy businessman and a political newcomer supported by ex-president Jair Bolsonaro, Zema also vowed to supply infrastructure, energy and labor to the private sector.

Brazil was the world’s fifth-largest producer of the silvery, white metal in 2022, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Vale do Jequitinhonha hosts prospective producers including Atlas Lithium Inc. and Latin Resources. In April, Sigma Lithium Corp. started producing lithium concentrate in the region.

Read more: One of the World’s Lithium Leaders Looks Like a Shakier Source

South America Boosts Efforts to Turn Lithium Into Batteries

(Corrects reference on Sigma Lithium in the last paragraph.)

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