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Russian nickel and palladium mining and smelting company Nornickel has signed a cooperation agreement with state-owned firm Rosatom to develop a lithium deposit in the northwestern Murmansk region.

The two firms have agreed to cooperate in joint projects, including the development of the Kolmozerskoye lithium deposit and further deep processing of lithium raw materials.

The deal comes amid surging global demand for lithium due to its use in batteries for electric vehicles.

However, Russia is facing the risk of lithium deficit due to suspension of the commodity exports from its main suppliers – Chile and Argentina, reported RIA news agency citing Rosatom.

This was due to sanctions imposed by the Western nations on Russia in the wake of its military war against Ukraine.

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By GlobalData

Nornickel president Vladimir Potanin said: “Nornickel’s products have long played an important role in energy storage. By expanding our range of metals with such an important and sought-after raw material as lithium, we intend to strengthen our position as a key supplier to the battery industry.

“And cooperation between Rosatom and Nornickel will allow the Russian industry to take a step forward in developing its own production of efficient modern batteries.”

Kolmozerskoye is said to be Russia’s largest and most promising lithium ore deposit.

In a bid to develop the lithium deposit, Rosatom and Nornickel plan to set up a joint venture (JV), in which the participants will have equal shares.

The proposed JV, which would combine the assets of the partners, will participate in the licence auction for the Kolmozerskoye deposit.

As part of the cooperation agreement, Rosatom is planning to include FSUE Atomflot, JSC TechSnabExport, ARMZ Uranium Holding, and JSC RENERA in the joint projects.

Nornickel said in a statement: “Lithium mining will help set up the first domestic production of lithium-containing products, as well as the production of lithium-ion traction batteries.

“Thus, by complementing each other’s capabilities and assets, cooperation between Rosatom and Nornickel will accelerate the construction of a full-cycle energy storage industry.”