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Electric Vehicles

Chinese Lithium Giant Pulls EVs Deeper Into Forced Labor Glare

A supplier that’s crucial for Tesla and a host of automakers plans to explore for metals in a region of China tied to allegations of human rights abuses.

Cauchari-Olaroz lithium salt lake in Argentina, one of Ganfeng Lithium’s global projects.

Cauchari-Olaroz lithium salt lake in Argentina, one of Ganfeng Lithium’s global projects.

Source: Ganfeng Lithium Co.

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A lithium producer for carmakers including BMW AG and Tesla Inc. is beginning work to assess battery metals projects in Xinjiang, deepening links between electric vehicle supply chains and a region at the heart of human-rights allegations against China.  

Ganfeng Lithium Co., China’s top producer of the material, is partnering through a subsidiary with a state-backed entity to accelerate exploration for and potentially develop lithium, nickel and other critical metal assets in the region. Ganfeng’s Chairman Li Liangbin earlier this year visited Xinjiang — where activists and Western governments say Uyghurs and other Muslim citizens have been subjected to forced labor — to discuss cooperating with the local government on the plans.