Bids for mothballed Quebec lithium plant due by January, trustee says

(Reuters) - Bids to acquire Chinese battery firm CATL's 3000750.SZ mothballed lithium plant in the Canadian province of Quebec are due by January next year, a representative with the court-appointed monitor overseeing the auction said on Wednesday.

Lithium is expected to be in hot demand in the early years of the next decade, but oversupply of the battery metal this year has pummeled the industry, causing major producers to cut back and forcing some smaller miners out of the business.

North American Lithium (NAL), backed by top battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology, halted operations last year at its Quebec mine and obtained creditor protection in May.

Bids to purchase the mine and related plant are due by Jan. 21, trustee Benoit Fontaine said in a phone interview.

Australia's Sayona Mining Ltd SYA.AX has said it will bid on the operation, but Fontaine declined to name other potential suitors. Sayona was not immediately available for comment.

Mineral-rich Quebec has backed upstart miners in hopes of tapping into demand from the electric vehicle boom and ranks as NAL’s largest secured creditor. A government spokesman declined comment on the auction.

In 2018, NAL produced around 114,000 tonnes of spodumene against its nameplate capacity of 180,000 tonnes.

Reporting by Jeff Lewis in Toronto and Melanie Burton in Melbourne; editing by Grant McCool