Japanese Petrochemicals company Idemitsu Kosan has increased its stake in Australian miner Delta Lithium to 15%, up from just 2.3% in January.

The $32.9m share purchase was made through Idemitsu’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Idemitsu Minerals Australia (IMA), taking the company’s total investment in Delta up to $36.4m (Y4.64bn), following a $3.4m share purchase in January 2023.

Delta will utilise the investment provided by Idemitsu to fund the continued exploration of two recently purchased lithium developments in Western Australia, the Mt Ida and Yinnetharra projects.

The Mt Ida project, purchased in 2021, has an indicated 2.2 million tonnes (mt) of lithium, with a further 9.3mt inferred. Exploratory drilling is ongoing at the Yinnethara project. 

Highlighting its potential scale, Delta described Yinnethara on its website as  “comparable to other areas of global scale endowments of lithium in Western Australia”, which contains three of the world’s ten largest lithium mines, including the largest, Greenbushes.

As such, the company has pledged to drill more than 400 holes, with 90,000m of dirt extracted. Initial drilling revealed deposits deeper than 350m.

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By GlobalData

IMA CEO Steve Kovac said of the deal: “Idemitsu’s second major investment in Delta Lithium is another exciting move as we double down on our strategic investments in critical minerals as the world turns to a more advanced renewable future.”

Kovac continued: “As global demand for critical minerals and rare earths grow, we continue to target investment opportunities with a focus on energy-related minerals including lithium, vanadium, copper, nickel and graphite.”

Analytics company GlobalData estimated in May 2022 that Australian lithium production would increase by 24.5% across the year. Lithium is also expected to be among the commodities with the greatest price increase in 2023, both as a result of projects returning to pre-pandemic conditions and a rise in lithium battery demand to power the clean energy transition. Idemitsu has explicitly cited the global energy transition as the motive behind its investment.