Tokyo, Japan – Toyota’s supply subsidiary Toyota Tsusho will establish a joint venture with Orocobre Limited of Argentina to develop Orocobre’s flagship lithium-potash project in that country. The element is a vital component in lithium-ion batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles.

A feasibility study is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2010. Subject to final terms, Toyota Tsusho will acquire a 25 per cent equity interest in the joint venture and will secure financing guaranteed by the Japanese government.

Orocobre will continue to own 75 per cent of the project after construction and will operate the joint venture.

“During the feasibility study, Orocobre and Toyota Tsusho will work together to develop the marketing strategy for the project’s production, with the objective of maximizing value from the project,” said Richard Seville, Orocobre managing director. “In addition, Toyota Tsusho will have the opportunity to negotiate a lithium chemicals off-take agreement with Orocobre as part of the joint venture.”

Seville said that the partnership would allow the company direct access to Toyota Motor Corporation and its partners, such as Panasonic and Sanyo. “These companies have significant expertise and understanding of supply requirements in large-format lithium-ion batteries for the automotive industry and consumer sector, and that will add greatly to our understanding of end-user requirements and demand,” he said. “As environmentally-friendly electric car demand continues to grow, Toyota Motor Corporation will have the opportunity to become a cornerstone off-take customer.”

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