GM Expands Its Battery Metals Supply With Investment in Lithium Tech Company
As it dives deeper into the mining industry, General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM) is investing in lithium technology company EnergyX. This is the carmaker’s latest arrangement to assure long-term supplies of the metal required to create electric vehicle batteries. The global push by automakers to electrify their fleets has resulted in a rush for consistent supply of lithium, copper, nickel, and other essential minerals. Demand is predicted to outstrip supply by the end of the decade, sparking interest in alternative manufacturing methods. As part of the investment, GM’s experts will assist EnergyX in commercializing the direct lithium extraction (DLE) technology, attempting to succeed over rivals Rio Tinto Ltd (NYSE:RIO) and BMW-backed Lilac Solutions Inc. Earlier this year, GM agreed to spend $650 million to become the largest shareholder in Lithium Americas Corp (TSX:LAC) (NYSE:LAC), which is developing the Thacker Pass clay lithium project in Nevada. Currently, Albemarle‘s Silver Peak brine plant in Nevada is the only producing mine in North America, however other projects are being developed including E3 Lithium’s (TSXV:ETL) (OTCQX:EEMMF) Clearwater Lithium Project in Alberta.
Alberta’s leading lithium developer and extraction technology pioneer E3 Lithium (TSXV:ETL) (OTCQX:EEMMF) is making significant progress in developing its lithium resource at the Clearwater Lithium Project in Alberta, as well as piloting Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technology in the field in 2023.
On April 21, E3 Lithium announced that it has filed its fourth quarter and full year 2022 financial results. Some of the highlights from last year include receiving $27 million from the Government of Canada’s Strategic Innovation Fun, executing a US$5 million strategic agreement with Imperial Oil and signing a memorandum of understanding with Pure Lithium, which produced a lithium metal battery using E3’s lithium concentrate.
Over the last 12 months, the company also oversaw the successful manufacture of its first batch commercial scale sorbent which is critical to the success and commercialization of its ion-exchange DLE technology and drilled the first two brine production wells at the Clearwater Project to evaluate lithium and sampled a total of three wells, confirming the producibility of the aquifer and lithium concentrations in its proposed production area.
The Company has filed its E3 Lithium 43-101 Technical Report: Lithium Resource Estimate, Bashaw District Project, Central Alberta.
E3 Lithium recently announced that its Facility Application for its 2023 field pilot plant has been approved by the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER). The AER license permits E3 to build and operate the equipment required to run the direct lithium extraction pilot, which is scheduled to commence operations in Q3 2023.
The prototype plant will be placed east of the Town of Olds in E3’s Clearwater Project Area, at the first well drilled in E3’s 2022 initial drill program. E3 Lithium revealed the plans and timetable for the field pilot in a news release on February 2, 2023.
“Since communicating our plans to start operating our field pilot plant in Q3 of this year, we have made excellent progress,” said E3 Lithium President and CEO Chris Doornbos. “We are incredibly excited to be field testing ion exchange technology for direct lithium extraction in real-world operating conditions this year.”
In March, E3 Lithium announced that its mineral resource has been upgraded to Measured and Indicated (M&I). The mineral resource update for the Bashaw District contains 6.6 million tonnes (Mt) of measured lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) and 9.4 Mt of indicated LCE, for a combined total of 16.0 Mt M&I.
According to Natural Resources Canada, Canada has 3.2 Mt of M&I lithium resources in hard rock deposits meaning E3 holds the world’s largest M&I mineral resource with 16.0 Mt of LCE.
Companies Are Making Acquisitions and Boosting Capacity
General Motors (NYSE:GM) recently announced that it is leading a $50 million Series B fundraising round in Exploration Technologies Inc, and the two companies have formed a strategic agreement to expand EnergyX’s lithium extraction and refinery technology. The deal intends to boost the availability of lithium, a critical material for EV batteries, in North America by utilizing EnergyX’s groundbreaking approach to maximize efficiency while enhancing sustainability for GM‘s rapidly scaling EV production. Direct lithium extraction (DLE) technology from EnergyX can produce lithium metal directly from brine and potentially in anode-ready form for EV batteries, enabling more cost-effective and sustainable lithium recovery and unlocking a vast North American lithium supply chain that would otherwise be unviable.
Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO) has started construction at its Alma, Quebec smelter to boost its capacity to cast low-carbon, high-value aluminum billets by 202,000 metric tonnes. The existing casting center will be upgraded with new cutting-edge equipment including furnaces, a casting pit, coolers, handling, inspection, sawing, and packing systems. The commissioning date is set for the first half of 2025. The C$240 million investment will enable Rio Tinto to utilize more of its aluminum production to produce billets using renewable hydroelectric power. Rio Tinto will be able to be more nimble and adaptable in fulfilling the projected increased demand from North American extruders for a variety of high-value-added products, primarily for the automotive and construction industries, as a result of this agreement.
Lithium Americas (TSX:LAC) (NYSE:LAC) announced in March that construction has begun at its 100%-owned Thacker Pass lithium project in Humboldt County, Nevada, after receipt of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) notice to proceed. Thacker Pass intends to produce 80,000 tonnes of battery-grade lithium carbonate (Li2CO3) in two 40,000 tpa phases. With the creation of 500 operating jobs and 1,000 construction positions, the first stage of production is expected to start in the second half of 2026.
Following Liontown Resources’ March 28, 2023 ASX announcement, Albemarle (NYSE:ALB) has acknowledged receiving the information and confirmed that it has made a non-binding proposal to acquire all of the company’s outstanding shares through a scheme of arrangement for A$2.50 or US$1.661 per share in cash, valuing Liontown at A$5.2 or US$3.4 billion on an enterprise basis. The per share consideration indicates a significant premium to Liontown owners as well as a significant premium over comparable benchmarks, according to Albemarle, who believes the proposal represents an appealing opportunity for Liontown shareholders.
E3 Lithium has received C$3.545 million from the Government of Canada’s Critical Minerals Research, Development, and Demonstration (CMRDD) program, as well as $4.9 million from the exercise of warrants from financings that closed in December 2020 and February 2021.
Featured Image @ Depositphotos
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Except as required by law, E3 Lithium Ltd. undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future event or otherwise, after the date on which the statements are made or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events. Neither does E3 Lithium Ltd. nor any of its representatives make any representation or warranty, express or implied, as to the accuracy, sufficiency or completeness of the information in this document. Neither E3 Lithium Ltd. nor any of its representatives shall have any liability whatsoever, under contract, tort, trust or otherwise, to you or any person resulting from the use of the information in this document by you or any of your representatives or for omissions from the information in this document.
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