Chilean chemical company Sociedad Química y Minera (SQM) offered to pay around $900 million to acquire the 80% that it doesn’t already own in Australian lithium producer Azure Minerals, its latest move to expand sales of the silvery white mineral.
SQM offered to pay AUD3.52 per share ($2.23) for the stake, including taxes and other fees associated with the deal, according to a securities filing Wednesday.
Azure said in a separate filing that its board of directors recommended shareholders accept the offer. The deal is expected to close within three to six months, SQM added.
In January, SQM acquired a 20% stake in West Perth-based Azure for AUD20 million.
Azure’s main asset is a 60% ownership in Andover, a lithium project in Western Australia holding between 2.5 million and 8.9 million metric tons of lithium carbonate equivalent. The other investor behind Andover is the Australian resources company Creasy Group. Azure also owns other mining rights in Western Australia.
SQM has operations in Chile, China and Australia, including in a joint venture with Perth-based Wesfarmers in the Mt. Holland project for producing about 50,000 metric tons of battery-quality lithium hydroxide per year.
The deal comes five months after the Chilean government announced plans to grant state-owned companies a stake in all lithium mining concessions in the country, including the one operated by SQM in the Atacama desert.
Chilean state-owned copper producer Codelco, which is leading the talks with SQM, last week agreed to buy Australia’s Lithium Power International, its first acquisition in the sector.
Lithium is used in electric cars and batteries for storing energy from renewable power plants, and demand is expected to grow due to the energy transition to net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.