Xinjiang Zhicun Lithium Industry Co.
In February 2022, CATL and Jiangxi Zhicun Lithium Industry Co. jointly registered Xinjiang Zhicun Lithium Industry Co., a lithium processing company in Chaqiliq (Ch: Ruoqiang) County, Bayingholen. Corporate advertisements indicate that the company expects to become the largest lithium carbonate producer in the world with the development of a 120,000-ton lithium carbonate project.
Talent recruitment advertisements for the company, posted in Fujian Province, suggest that the company seeks high-skilled workers from other provinces. Because the company only started construction in the last several months, it is impossible to know whether it is employing state-sponsored labor transfers. However, state-sponsored labor programs are already in place for other companies in need of workers in Chaqiliq County. The county government collects workers from Hotan, where “there is a large number of surplus laborers that need to be transferred and employed.” The lithium carbonate facility is being built adjacent to a TBEA facility currently under expansion, which reportedly includes battery manufacturing. TBEA participation in labor transfer schemes has been well documented.
Chaqiliq County seems to be establishing itself as a hub for new energy, centered in large part around the development of these new enterprises. The government sees this as a way to develop the region’s economy while redoubling its commitment to “highlight the employment of the surplus urban and rural labor force,” which is one of the euphemisms the government uses for coercive labor transfer programs.