(Yicai Global) March 5 -- China-based battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. plans to amplify its stake in a Canadian lithium mine and potentially become its largest shareholder.
CATL plans to inject CAD60 million (USD46.6 million) into Quebec-based North American Lithium Inc. and subscribe to its convertible corporate bonds via a debt-for-equity swap, the target's largest shareholder Jilin Jien Nickel Industry Co. said in a statement.
North American Lithium is engaged in the mining, beneficiation and smelting of lithium, a key ingredient in batteries for new-energy vehicles, which are rising to prominence as many countries look to shut down production of traditionally fueled vehicles. Contemporary Amperex was the first Chinese lithium-ion battery maker recognized by international auto manufacturers.
CATL already holds a 24-percent stake in North American Lithium, with Jien Nickel holding almost 69 percent and the Quebec government owning 7 percent. The capital injection will boost CATL's stake to nearly 44 percent, diluting the remaining shareholder stakes to 51 percent and 5 percent.
If the firms go ahead with the CAD16-million debt-for-equity swap, CATL's stake will shoot to 48 percent, reducing Jien Nickel's stake to 47 percent and the local government's to less than 5 percent.
North American Lithium is looking for funding to continue trial production of lithium oxide concentrate at its La Corne facility in Quebec. Prolonged construction and a cash drought have restricted progress, but it hopes the new cash will help it press on.
Jian Nickel has also been struggling with money. As of the end of last month, it had CNY7.3 billion (USD1.1 billion) in outstanding loans from financial institutions, with overdue interest tallying CNY1.3 billion, it said in another statement the same day.