Tesla is reportedly considering purchasing Sigma Lithium, a Brazillian lithium mining company, for an estimated $3 billion.
Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk have shown a continued interest in the extraction and refinement of lithium over the past five years. With the company’s exponentially growing demand for the substance, and its alacrity to vertically integrate, a corporate purchase of a lithium miner certainly is within its MO. But now, Tesla may be closer than ever to such a purchase, as Bloomberg reports that the automaker is exploring purchasing Sigma Lithium for $3 billion.
Sigma Lithium is one of the largest lithium extractors in South America, thanks in large part to what the company calls “the largest hard rock lithium deposit in the Americas.” Located in the South Eastern State of Minas Genrias, the massive mining operation has been in operation since 2018. Importantly to Tesla, Sigma’s proximity to the Atlantic coast means its extracted lithium can easily be shipped across the globe.
Simga Lithium has not responded to Teslarati or Bloomberg regarding the potential sale, and representatives of Tesla CEO Elon Musk refused to comment to Bloomberg on what they called “rumors.”
Following the leak in information, shares of Sigma Lithium on the NASDAQ exploded by more than 25% in after-market trading.
What makes the Sigma acquisition potentially highly attractive to Tesla, besides its proximity to the coast, is its growth potential. According to Sigma Lithium’s website, it plans to increase output to 270,000 metric tonnes of lithium annually, with the more distant goal of producing 766,000 metric tonnes of lithium annually in the coming years. Furthermore, with a nearby abundant supply of water and hydropower on the Jequitinhonha River, the operation can achieve this growth at a lower cost than other operations.
With the acquisition of Sigma Lithium, Tesla would only be a couple of steps away from a completely vertically integrated lithium supply chain. Tesla already produces its own battery cells, and with an upcoming lithium refining facility in Corpus Christi, Texas, raw lithium from Sigma’s operation in Brazil could help the automaker continue to tame battery costs.
With Tesla’s profit margins becoming the envy of the auto industry, we may see an ever-increasing number of automakers moving into lithium extraction and refining. However, with the expertise and property holdings that mining companies currently possess, this move could come at the astronomical cost of a corporate acquisition. It remains unclear if other automakers will follow in Tesla’s footsteps.
William is a shareholder in Tesla but does not control any shares of Sigma Lithium or its subsidiaries.
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