US gives $50m boost to critical minerals investor TechMet

1st December 2023 By: Bloomberg

US gives $50m boost to critical minerals investor TechMet

TechMet CEO Brian Menell

A US government agency has given investment firm TechMet an additional $50-million to support the company’s focus on critical minerals.

The backing from the US International Development Finance Corporation brings its total investment to $105-million, and implies a valuation for TechMet of more than $1 billion, the Dublin-based company said Friday in a statement. The US agency made an initial investment of $25-million in the closely held firm in 2020.

The US has made securing critical minerals supply a priority to reduce dependence on China, which dominates the value chain for many key metals, including those needed for the energy transition.

Producers of metals like lithium and nickel have grappled with tumbling prices this year as a wave of new supply hits the market, making it difficult to invest in new mines to meet the expected surge in demand for use in electric vehicles in the coming years.

“A lot of great projects are in increasingly weak and underfunded hands, and we need these projects to be built in order to meet the accelerating demand growth,” TechMet CEO Brian Menell said in an interview.

TechMet invests in assets that produce, process and recycle critical minerals that are key to the electric-vehicle industry and the energy transition. The firm, which is backed by commodities trader Mercuria Energy Group, is in talks with shareholders and new investors, including sovereign funds and family offices, to close a $300-million fundraising round in the next few months, according to Menell.

TechMet has invested more than $250-million into battery metals and rare earths projects around the world in the past two years, including Rainbow Rare Earths, Brazilian Nickel and Cornish Lithium. The firm said it will use the latest US government funding to deploy $50-million into a South African project being developed by Rainbow Rare Earths.