Eager to secure all the lithium it needs to power a growing lineup of electric vehicles, General Motors said on Tuesday that it will lead a $50 million investment into lithium extraction and refining startup EnergyX.
With the deal, the legacy automaker says it will help EnergyX scale its lithium-extraction tech. In exchange, GM will get exclusive access to some of the lithium that EnergyX sources from mining companies in North and South America.
The companies declined to disclose the extent of this exclusivity deal, but in an email to TechCrunch, GM spokesperson David Caldwell said it “is capped at certain points, not unlimited.” The companies also did not name the other investors involved in the $50 million funding round.
Lithium demand has surged in the past few years, thanks in no small part to the rise of electric vehicles and renewables. The push for evermore lithium is driving companies such as EnergyX to seek more efficient — and less environmentally destructive — extraction methods. Earlier this year, EnergyX said that its tech can “extract lithium from brine resources using little to no water, and does not require heavy metals or chemical additives.”
The Austin, Texas, and San Juan, Puerto Rico–based startup bears no relation to a similarly named, Seoul-based company called Energy X, which focuses on decarbonizing buildings.
Like other automakers, this isn’t GM’s first investment in a lithium mining company. In January, the automaker said it would pump a whopping $650 million into Lithium Americas to help fund a mine in Nevada.