Tesla Inc.

reportedly is on the prowl for its own lithium-mining company, and losses are pilling up for the stocks of lithium producers.

Shares of Albemarle Corp.

were down more than 4% on Tuesday, after a drop of nearly 10% on Friday. Livent Corp.

shares extended their losses a third day, down more than 3% on Tuesday after a 9% decline on Friday.

Rounding up the main U.S. publicly traded lithium producers, Piedmont Lithium

fell more than 2% after a 12% drop on Friday.

According to a Bloomberg report late Friday, Tesla is considering a potential bid for Canadian miner Sigma Lithium Corp.

Sigma Lithium is one of “multiple mining options” being explored, the report said.

Tesla has longed to mine its own metal, a key component in electric-vehicle batteries.

In September, the EV maker filed paperwork connected with a proposed lithium refinery in Texas, which would add to Tesla’s presence in the state. That also would be following the advice of its Chief Executive Elon Musk, who has compared lithium mining with “printing money.”

The Financial Times reported in October that Tesla held talks to buy a stake in commodities giant Glencore PLC
but those talks fizzled.

Lithium prices peaked about a year ago, and have since come off those highs. Benchmark Mineral Intelligence’s lithium price index is down 1.7% this year, but up 34% year-over-year.

The index is tied to the weighted average price for lithium carbonate and hydroxide, the two primary lithium chemicals.

Tesla’s proposed lithium facility, close to the port of Corpus Christi, would be the first of its kind in North America, Tesla has said.

Construction could reach “commercial operations” by the end of 2024, Tesla said in an application for tax breaks filed with the Texas Comptroller’s Office.

Last month, General Motors Co.

announced a $650 million investment in Canadian miner Lithium Americas Corp.

Also weighing on lithium-miner stocks is news that China’s battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd.
or CATL, is reported to be offering discounts mostly to local EV makers on its batteries “to win more orders as lithium prices slowly unwind,” Emmanuel Rosner with Deutsche Bank said in a note.

Despite the recent losses, shares of the three lithium miners have outperformed the broader market index in the one-year and year-to-date spans.

In the past 12 months, Albemarle and Piedmont are up 30%, while Livent has gained slightly over 3%. That contrasts with losses of around 8% for the S&P 500 index

in the same period.

The overperformance is holding for the year so far, with Albemarle up 14%, Livent advancing 18%, and Piedmont gaining 43%. That compares with gains of about 5% for the S&P.


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