By The Associated Press
NEW YORK – A key supplier of Toyota Motor Corp. has formed a partnership to mine lithium in Argentina, a sign of the importance of the metal which is critical in the production of next-generation hybrids and electric cars.
The global lithium-ion battery market is expected to surge to $21.8 billion by 2015 and to $74.1 billion by 2020, from $31.9 million last year, according to business consulting firm A.T. Kearney.
The partnership, announced late Tuesday, includes Toyota Tsusho Corp. and Australian miner Orocobre Ltd. They will develop a lithium mine in northwestern Argentina. The project is expected to cost about $100 million, Orocobre Chairman James Calaway said.
Toyota Tsusho, partly owned by Toyota Motor, is securing a low-cost loan from the Japanese government to help fund 60 percent of the mining project.