• Published in April 22, 2024 03:00 inMining

Sale of Lithium Projects in Brazil: A Comprehensive Guide


Lithium, often referred to as the "white gold" of the 21st century, has become increasingly critical in the global market, primarily due to its essential role in lithium-ion batteries, which are vital for electric vehicle technology and renewable energy storage. This light metal is crucial for the energy transition towards more sustainable sources and for combating climate change, providing energy storage solutions that enable greater penetration of renewable energies, such as solar and wind.

Relevance of Lithium for Energy Transition and Sustainable Technologies

The demand for lithium has been growing exponentially, fueled by the global boom in electric vehicles and the expansion of renewable energy infrastructures. As more nations and companies commit to carbon neutrality goals, the need for efficient energy storage solutions makes lithium an indispensable strategic resource. Its ability to enable the production of batteries with high storage capacity and extended lifespan places lithium at the forefront of efforts to achieve a green economy and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

Overview of Brazil's Role in the Lithium Market

Although Brazil is not yet one of the largest global lithium producers, it has significant geological potential for mining this mineral. Lithium deposits in Brazil, primarily located in Minas Gerais, are beginning to attract significant investments from both national and international companies, such as Sigma Lithium, Lithium Ionic, and Latin Resources. With the growing global demand and the need to diversify lithium sources to avoid dependence on a few international suppliers, Brazil is emerging as a player with the potential to substantially contribute to the global lithium supply. Brazil's strategic geographic position and its vast geological potential make it an ideal candidate to become a pillar of the lithium market in the coming decades.

Through this article, we will explore how the sale of lithium projects in Brazil can not only foster local economic development but also position the country as a leader in the lithium value chain, crucial for the global clean and sustainable technology industry. Silveira Capital, with its experience in mining M&A, is ready to assist investors and companies in navigating this promising market, ensuring efficient and strategic transactions in the lithium sector.

The Global Lithium Market

The global lithium market, crucial for various modern technologies especially electric vehicle batteries and energy storage systems, is on a trajectory of accelerated expansion. This chapter explores the current landscape, identifies the main producers and consumers, and discusses the dynamic demand and supply trends shaping this critical market.

Current Overview of the Global Lithium Market

Currently, the lithium market is experiencing exponential growth, driven primarily by increasing demand for electric vehicles (EVs) and renewable energy storage solutions. Favorable government policies, such as subsidies for electric vehicles and carbon emission reduction targets, also play a significant role in expanding this market. Growing environmental awareness and the global shift towards cleaner energy are forcing industries worldwide to rely more on lithium as a sustainable and efficient energy solution.

Main Producers and Consumers of Lithium in the World

The major lithium producers are located in the so-called "Lithium Triangle," which spans parts of Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia, regions that contain large amounts of lithium extracted from salt flats. Australia is also a dominant player, leading global production with its extensive hard rock mines, another significant source of lithium. As for consumers, China and the United States are at the forefront, driven by their robust electric vehicle and battery technology industries.

Demand and Supply Trends

The demand for lithium is projected to increase dramatically in the coming years, with estimates suggesting that global demand could triple by the end of this decade. This surge is attributed to the continuous expansion of electric vehicle markets and the growing need for renewable energy storage solutions. However, this rising demand presents significant supply challenges, as expanding lithium production capacity is complex and involves considerable environmental and regulatory challenges.

Moreover, price volatility due to supply and demand fluctuations, along with the concentration of production in a few countries, can significantly impact the stability of the lithium market. This adds extra pressure on new exploration and development projects outside traditional regions, including Brazil, which is positioning itself to be a relevant player in this market.

Today, in the first quarter of 2024, lithium prices have undergone a sharp decline. Analysts such as Joe Lowry, Andy Leyland, and UBS attribute this drop to an increase in the mineral's supply, which is expected to grow by about 40% in 2024 due to increased production in Australia, Latin America, and Africa. This is likely to continue to maintain a supply surplus in the coming years and keep prices low unless there are significant new increases in demand.

This global outlook underscores the strategic importance of mergers, acquisitions, and the development of new projects in the lithium sector, especially for investors looking to enter or expand their presence in this dynamic market that is essential for the future of clean energy. Caution is always very important to enable projects that are profitable even at historically low prices, and that remain sustainable even during crises, which are inevitable in mineral commodities and especially in new markets.

Lithium Deposits in Brazil

Location and Potential of the Main Lithium Deposits in Brazil

Lithium deposits in Brazil are primarily located in Minas Gerais and Ceará, with the Araçuaí region in Minas Gerais being particularly noteworthy. These areas are known for their reserves of spodumene, a mineral that contains high concentrations of lithium. Recently, new discoveries in the north of Brazil and other regions have demonstrated the vast untapped potential, suggesting that the country could significantly increase its share in the global lithium market if these resources were properly developed.

Lithium Valley

The "Lithium Valley" is a term used to describe the region in Minas Gerais that hosts a series of lithium operations and exploration projects. Similar to the Lithium Triangle in South America, which includes parts of Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile, the Brazilian Lithium Valley is becoming a focus of investment and development activities, with various national and international companies exploring its potential.

History of Lithium Exploration in the Country

Lithium exploration in Brazil began in the 1950s and 1960s, but it was only in recent years that renewed interest in battery metals due to the electric vehicle boom reignited exploration and assessment of the country's capabilities. Despite challenges, such as the need for greater infrastructure and clearer regulatory policy, technological advancement and increasing pressure for sustainable energy sources have propelled research and development in Brazilian lithium deposits.

Comparison with Other Major Global Projects

When comparing Brazil's lithium deposits with major projects in other countries, it is evident that although Brazil is still emerging as a player in the lithium market, it possesses geological characteristics similar to those found in established productive regions, such as the hard rock deposits in Australia. With proper investment and a strategic approach, Brazilian deposits have the potential to produce high-quality lithium sustainably, competing with operations in countries like Australia and members of the Lithium Triangle.

Through this overview, it becomes clear that Brazil holds a unique opportunity to establish itself as a leader in lithium production, especially considering the growing global demand and the strategic importance of the mineral for future technologies. M&A strategies can play a crucial role in this development, helping to consolidate projects and attract investments that maximize the potential of Brazilian lithium deposits.

Legislation and Regulation

Legislation and regulation are crucial aspects in the exploration and commercialization of mineral resources, including lithium, especially in a country with as much biodiversity and environmental needs as Brazil. This chapter addresses the specific legislation for lithium mining, the impacts of environmental regulations on lithium exploration, and the licensing and approval processes required to conduct these operations in the country.

Specific Legislation for Mining and Marketing of Lithium in Brazil

In Brazil, lithium mining is primarily regulated by the Mining Code (Decree-Law No. 227/1967) and its subsequent updates, as well as by the regulations imposed by the National Mining Agency (ANM). The legislation aims to ensure the sustainable use of mineral resources, including lithium, which is considered strategic for the country's energy future. Lithium miners must obtain a mining concession, which authorizes the commercial exploitation of the mineral after the research phase confirms its economic viability. For more details, the ANM offers a portal with access to relevant legislation here, ANM — National Mining Agency.

Impacts of Environmental Regulations on Lithium Exploration

Environmental regulations in Brazil are strict, aiming to protect the country's rich and diverse ecosystems. In the context of lithium mining, this means that companies must adhere to a strict set of environmental standards, which include conducting Environmental Impact Studies (EIA) and the Environmental Impact Report (RIMA). These documents must be approved before any mining activity can begin. Environmental legislation aims to minimize the negative impacts of mining on the environment, ensuring sustainable practices and biodiversity conservation. Additional information can be found on the IBAMA website.

Licensing Processes and Necessary Approvals

To initiate lithium exploration in Brazil, in addition to the mining concession, companies must go through an environmental licensing process, which is divided into three main phases: Preliminary License (LP), which certifies the project's location and design meets legislations; Installation License (LI), which authorizes the establishment of the venture according to the approved project specifications; and Operation License (LO), which allows the start of operation after verifying compliance with the conditions of previous licenses. Each stage requires approval from different regulatory bodies and can be a lengthy process, depending on the project's complexity and associated environmental impact. The ANM portal provides detailed guidelines for each step of the process.

Understanding and navigating legislation and regulatory processes is essential for the successful sale and operation of lithium projects in Brazil. The assistance of specialized M&A consultancies in the mining sector, such as Silveira Capital, can be crucial in facilitating these processes, ensuring that transactions not only comply with all legal and environmental requirements but also align with the best practices of sustainability and social responsibility.

Lithium Deposits Sale Process in Brazil

The sale of lithium deposits in Brazil involves a series of critical steps that must be meticulously planned and executed to ensure the success of the transaction. This chapter details the process from initial prospecting to the closing of the deal, emphasizing the importance of due diligence and correct appraisal of the deposits, as well as strategies to maximize the sale value.

Steps for Selling a Deposit: From Prospecting to Business Closure

Prospecting and Initial Evaluation: The process begins with geological prospecting to identify potential lithium deposits. This phase includes detailed geological and geochemical analyses to assess the viability of the deposit. Tools such as geological mapping, soil and rock sampling, and drilling are essential to establish the extent and content of the mineral on site.

Development of a Geological Model: Based on the collected data, a detailed geological model is developed that will serve as the basis for the economic and technical evaluation of the project. This model is crucial for understanding the potential of the deposit and planning subsequent phases of exploration and development.

Economic Evaluation: The geological model is used to conduct an economic evaluation, including feasibility studies that consider operational costs, initial investment, lithium market prices, and other economic parameters. This step is fundamental to determine if the lithium deposit can be economically viable.

Licensing and Regulatory Approvals: Alongside the economic evaluation, all necessary licenses and regulatory approvals must be obtained. In Brazil, this includes environmental licenses and approval from the National Mining Agency (ANM), as detailed in the previous chapter on legislation and regulation.

Marketing and Searching for Buyers: With the project's viability established and licenses obtained, the marketing process begins to attract investors or buyers. This effort may involve roadshows, investor presentations, and direct negotiations with potential stakeholders.

Projects can also be marketed at earlier stages, for instance, Silveira Capital currently demands from prospective areas to licensed lithium projects and other commodities such as gold, rare earths, copper, iron, and others.

The more developed the project, the higher its value, the lower the perceived risk by potential buyers, but also the greater the investment required by the owner.

Negotiation and Business Closure: Final negotiations will address price, payment terms, and transfer of mining rights. It is essential that all parties are aligned in terms of expectations and contractual obligations for the deal closure to be successful

Importance of Due Diligence and Appraisal of Deposits

Due diligence is a critical step in the sale process of any deposit, including lithium. It involves a detailed verification of all technical, legal, and environmental aspects associated with the deposit. The appraisal of the deposit, in turn, should be performed by experts who consider not only the mineral resources present but also aspects such as access, existing infrastructure, and environmental and social issues that may impact future operations.

The importance of the seller developing the project/deposit/mine in an organized manner with auditable data, anticipating a possible sale process that will undergo due diligence, cannot be overstated.

Strategies to Maximize Sale Value

To maximize the sale value of a lithium deposit, it is essential to:

Demonstrate Technical and Economic Viability: Proving through detailed studies that the deposit is technically and economically viable increases its appeal to potential buyers.

Ensure Regulatory and Environmental Compliance: Ensuring that all regulatory and environmental requirements are fully met elevates the project's profile and reduces potential risks for the buyer.

Present Expansion Potentials: Identifying and presenting possible expansions or extensions of the mine's lifespan can add significant value to the project.

Use Effective Marketing Strategies: Implementing a well-planned marketing strategy that highlights the unique qualities of the deposit and its market potential can attract a broader spectrum of interested investors.

By implementing these strategies, companies can not only increase the chances of a successful sale but also ensure that they receive the best possible return for their valuable asset.

As mentioned earlier, projects can be sold at different stages of development, some of which are more embryonic and do not provide the basis for a financial feasibility analysis (pre-PEA); therefore, at this stage, one should not "force the issue" to speculate on a discounted cash flow, as it would have the opposite of the desired effect.

To add value, we must rely on methodologies consolidated in the market and delimited by standards such as NI 43-101 and JORC.

With the support of specialized M&A firms for mining, such as Silveira Capital, deposit owners can successfully navigate this complex process and achieve excellent results in the competitive lithium market.

Appraisal and Valuation of Lithium Projects

Evaluating and valuing lithium projects involves a deep understanding of the technical and market aspects that influence the economic potential of a deposit. This chapter explores the methods used to evaluate lithium deposits, the factors affecting the value of a project, and recent examples of valuations in the lithium market, providing essential insights for investors and companies in the industry.

Métodos de Avaliação de Jazidas de Lítio

Cost Method: This approach considers the costs associated with exploring and developing the deposit up to the current phase.

Market Method: Compares recent transactions of similar projects in the market. This method is particularly useful in active markets where there are available data from sales of similar projects or companies.

Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) Method: One of the most accurate methods, DCF projects the future cash flows generated by the project and discounts them at a rate reflecting the project's specific risks. This method is data-intensive and requires a good understanding of production variables, expected lithium prices, operational and capital costs, and regulatory aspects.

The first two methods are used for projects in more embryonic development stages, and the last is for projects that have reached the stage of Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) or beyond.

A common practice in the market that should not be practiced is multiplying the potential quantity of ore in the deposit by the current market value of the commodities (or a fraction thereof). This simplistic methodology, widely practiced in Brazil, as it does not take into account several important variables, usually overestimates the price of the deposit and makes business unfeasible.

Factors Influencing the Value of a Lithium Project

Size of the Prospective Area: For early-stage projects, the size of the prospective area is an important variable and increases the potential of that area.

Reserves and Resources: The quantity and quality of lithium reserves are critical. Projects with high concentrations of lithium and large volumes of resources tend to be more valuable.

Geographical Location: Proximity to infrastructure such as energy, transportation, and labor can significantly reduce operational costs and increase the project's value.

Regulatory Aspects: Environmental legislation and mining policies of the country can impact both the costs and the time required to bring the project to production.

Market Conditions: Global lithium prices and the demand for lithium products, such as batteries for electric vehicles, are critical factors affecting value.

Extraction Technology and Processes: The application of innovative and efficient technologies can reduce costs and improve the economic viability of the project.

Quality of Geological Exploration Work: The quality of work done for a particular area directly influences the risk perception of potential buyers. The higher the quality standard, the higher the value paid for a project.

Successful Cases and Case Studies

To address successful transactions in the lithium sector, we can detail notable examples that illustrate how mergers, acquisitions, and strategic investments resulted in significant gains for the companies involved. Let's examine two relevant examples: Tianqi Lithium's acquisition of SQM and the expansion of the Greenbushes mine by Talison Lithium, a joint venture between Albemarle Corporation and Tianqi Lithium.

1. Tianqi Lithium and SQM

Transaction: In 2018, Tianqi Lithium, one of China's largest lithium producers, acquired 24% of SQM (Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile), a world leader in lithium production, for approximately USD 4.1 billion. The transaction was notable not only for its value but also for its strategic importance, as SQM has access to vast lithium resources in the Salar de Atacama in Chile, one of the richest and most cost-efficient lithium deposits in the world.

Characteristics and Impact: The acquisition allowed Tianqi Lithium to diversify its asset base geographically and improve its access to the global lithium market. The transaction also emphasized the importance of Chile as a central hub for lithium production and highlighted the growing influence of Chinese companies in the global lithium market.

2. Greenbushes Mine Expansion

Transaction: Greenbushes in Western Australia is one of the oldest and largest lithium mines in the world. Talison Lithium, which operates the mine, is a joint venture between the American giant Albemarle Corporation and the Chinese company Tianqi Lithium. In recent years, Talison announced multiple phases of mine expansion, with investments totaling more than USD 1 billion. These expansions aim to significantly increase the production capacity of lithium concentrate at the mine.

Characteristics and Impact: The expansion of Greenbushes is critical to meet the growing demand for lithium. The investment not only increases production but also employs advanced technologies to enhance efficiency and minimize environmental impact. This project is a prime example of how substantial investments in existing operations can result in significant gains in capacity and efficiency.

These success cases illustrate the importance of mergers and acquisitions in the lithium sector, not only for growth and expansion of production capacities but also as vital elements in the global strategy of companies seeking to capitalize on the growing market for renewable energy and sustainable technologies. By considering these examples, investors and companies can gain valuable insights into how to structure their own investment and expansion strategies in the competitive lithium market.

The Future of Lithium in Brazil

Projections for the Development of Lithium Projects in Brazil

Brazil, known for its rich reserves of various minerals, is beginning to explore its potential for lithium production. With global lithium demand expected to increase significantly due to the growth of the electric vehicle market and energy storage solutions, Brazil is well-positioned to become a leader in lithium production. Projections suggest that with the right investments in exploration and technology, the country could significantly expand its production in the coming years, contributing to economic diversification and technological development.

Brazil’s Role in the Global Lithium Market in the Coming Years

Brazil has the potential to play a significant role in the global lithium market, particularly as a supplier to the United States and Europe, which are seeking to reduce their dependence on external sources, mainly China. Brazil's ability to offer lithium sustainably and ethically could position it as a preferred partner in the global lithium supply chain.

Potential for International Partnerships and Foreign Investments

Brazil's geographical position, coupled with its policies encouraging foreign investment in mining, presents an attractive opportunity for international partnerships. Global mining and energy companies might view Brazil not only as a source of lithium but also as a strategic partner in developing extraction and processing technologies, and a source of various other strategic minerals important for energy transition, such as rare earth elements.

Brazil has been rediscovered by the international market and is currently a hot spot for mining opportunities!


Recap of the Main Points

This article explored the rising importance of lithium in the global landscape and Brazil's strategic position as an emerging and influential player in the lithium market. We discussed the current status of lithium deposits in Brazil, market development and prospects, challenges and opportunities facing lithium projects, and the relevance of mergers and acquisitions for growth and innovation in the sector.

Strategic Importance of Effective Mineral Resource Management

Effective management of lithium resources in Brazil is crucial to ensure that the country not only benefits economically but also maintains sustainable and responsible practices. This includes ensuring that lithium exploration contributes positively to the social and economic development of mining regions while minimizing environmental impacts.

Call to Action for Investors and Industry Companies

For investors and mining industry companies, the time is now to evaluate and act on the opportunities in the Brazilian lithium market. Silveira Capital, a boutique M&A specialist in mining, is ready to assist with M&A expertise and a deep understanding of the mining sector, ensuring that investments are made strategically and beneficially, both for the companies and for Brazil's sustainable development.

Through strategic collaboration and a commitment to innovation and sustainability, we can maximize the potential of lithium to strengthen Brazil's economy and its position in the global market, significantly contributing to a cleaner and more sustainable energy future.

Silveira Capital, making the connection between opportunities and capital.


What is lithium and why is it important?

Lithium is a light and highly reactive chemical element, crucial for making lithium-ion batteries used in electronic devices and electric vehicles. Its importance is growing in the transition to clean and renewable energies.

How does Brazil position itself in the global lithium market?

Brazil has significant lithium reserves, mainly in the Jequitinhonha Valley, Minas Gerais. While still emerging in production, the country has the potential to become a major producer and exporter, given the increasing global demand.

What are the main challenges in lithium exploration in Brazil?

Challenges include geological complexities of extraction, the need for advanced technologies, strict environmental issues, and compliance with Brazilian regulatory standards.

How is the value of a lithium deposit determined?

The value of a lithium deposit is determined by methods such as Discounted Cash Flow, cost-benefit analysis, and market comparison, considering factors like reserve volume, mineral quality, extraction costs, and market potential.

What are the legal steps required to sell a lithium deposit in Brazil?

Selling a lithium deposit requires operational licenses, environmental approvals, and compliance with the specific regulations of the National Mining Agency. The transaction must also adhere to legal norms for the sale and transfer of mining rights.

How to sell a lithium deposit/project?

Selling involves assessing the deposit, preparing detailed documentation, marketing to potential buyers, negotiations, and finalizing the deal through legal contracts.

What is the impact of emerging technologies on lithium mining?

Emerging technologies like automation, drones for exploration, and biotechnology for ore treatment are revolutionizing lithium mining, increasing efficiency, reducing costs, and minimizing environmental impacts.

Are there government incentives for lithium exploration in Brazil?

The Brazilian government offers tax incentives, financial support through development banks, and specific programs to foster mineral research and exploration, including lithium, aiming to stimulate the mining sector.

How does the political-economic scenario affect the lithium market in Brazil?

The lithium market in Brazil is influenced by government policies on infrastructure and technology investment, economic stability, and international trade relations, which can facilitate or hinder the sector's development.

What is the expected future for the lithium market in Brazil?

Projected to grow substantially due to the high global demand for lithium for batteries, Brazil could significantly increase its share in the global market with investments in technology and sustainability, benefiting economically and contributing to a cleaner energy matrix.


This article is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, financial, or investment advice. Before making any investment decision, consult with qualified professionals. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Silveira Capital or its affiliates.