Chinese mining company Zijin Mining Group has agreed to acquire Neo Lithium, a Canada-based lithium brine developer, in an all-cash deal worth C$960m ($770.45m).

Neo Lithium is the owner of the Tres Quebradas lithium project (3Q Project) located in Argentina.

Shareholders of the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) listed company are being offered C$6.50 ($5.22) per share under the takeover by Zijin Mining.

Neo Lithium president and CEO Waldo Perez said: “After a thorough strategic process, we are very pleased to provide this all-cash premium offer to our shareholders from a leading global mining company.

“This is the result of the collective work of our premier lithium brine exploration team, starting from initial discovery in late 2015 to defining one of the largest and highest-grade lithium brine deposits in the world, and culminating in this premium offer in just six years.”

The 3Q Project is located in the Catamarca Province, which is considered to be the largest as well as the oldest lithium producing province in Argentina. The lithium brine lake and salar complex is being developed in the lithium triangle, where more than 40% of the global lithium is claimed to be produced.

The project, which spans 35,000ha, is fully permitted up to construction.

Zijin Mining chairman Chen Jinghe said: “Neo Lithium’s 3Q lithium brine project in Catamarca, Argentina is one of the largest and highest-grade projects of its kind in the world. We would like to express our high respect for the management and professional team who discovered and successfully explored this project.

“The 3Q project represents an important addition to Zijin’s growing global asset mix and it is a good choice for Zijin to enter the field of new energy minerals.”

The proposed deal has been approved unanimously by Neo Lithium’s board of directors.

Subject to the company shareholders’ approval, certain government, regulatory, stock exchange, and court approvals in Canada and China, the transaction is anticipated to be closed in the first half of 2022.

Neo Lithium is backed by Chinese battery producer Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) as its strategic investor.

In June last year, Zijin Mining announced the acquisition of a majority stake in Tibet Julong Copper for $548m in cash.