VANCOUVER, BC, March 22, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- USA News Group - Set for several exciting new 2022 rollouts , the market for electric vehicles (EVs) is expected to continue its exponential growth, which is project to surpass +41.30% CAGR through to 2026. However, along the road towards an EV revolution, major markets such as the US have fallen behind in lithium production , much to the detriment of their clean energy ambitions. In order for EV automakers such as Tesla Inc. /zigman2/quotes/203558040/composite TSLA +1.24% , Rivian Automotive, Inc. /zigman2/quotes/230726939/composite RIVN -0.16% , and Lucid Group, Inc. /zigman2/quotes/221104327/composite LCID -0.93% to continue their push for more of their creations to hit the roads, the global lithium supply needs to be bolstered by the efforts of major miners and lithium developers, such as Rio Tinto Group /zigman2/quotes/202627887/composite RIO -1.92% and Lithium South Development Corporation /zigman2/quotes/203008929/delayed CA:LIS +1.01% (otcqb:LISMF) respectively.
In order to keep up with the surging global demand, things are developing quite rapidly at one of the world's premium salars—the Hombre Muerto North Lithium Project (HMN Li) located inside of the prolific Lithium Triangle within Salta Province, Argentina.
The project is being developed by and Lithium South Development Corporation /zigman2/quotes/203008929/delayed CA:LIS +1.01% (otcqb:LISMF), which recently announced an expansion of its land holdings in the area, by acquiring an additional 2,400 hectares (nearly 6,000 acres) through three non-contiguous claim blocks approximately 5 kms to the north of its 2,089-hectare Alba Sabrina claim block.
The new areas were acquired to provide a potential water source and a location for anticipated future plant and processing facilities, while eliminating the need for Lithium South to locate any future development on their current salar locations.
"Our Company is approaching 2022 with the goal of increasing our high-quality lithium resource and completing a project Feasibility Study," said Lithium South President Adrian F.C. Hobkirk. " Lithium South is well financed to complete these objectives at a time of record high lithium carbonate prices."
As outlined in its 2022 Corporate Plan , Lithium South Development has already defined a high-quality lithium resource on their salar, and plans to significantly expand the known resource with a drill program and further pumping wells. Drill permissions were stated to be expected in January 2022, while road as well as drill pad construction had already been initiated.
Contained within the HMN Li Project's prospects is Lithium South's commitment to undertake a Feasibility Study using industry proven conventional evaporation and if warranted , a highly-anticipated technology known as Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE).
The current HMN Li Project resource located at the Tramo claim block is defined as 571,000 measured and indicated tonnes Lithium Carbonate Equivalent at 756 ppm Li, with a low Li to Mg ratio of 2.6:1 as reported in 2018 , in a NI 43-101 report.
Local experts, Eon Minerals are currently performing conventional evaporation test work to produce battery grade lithium carbonate and confirm this industry standard lithium extraction process. In addition, three 2,000-liter bulk samples of HMN Li's high-quality brine is awaiting laboratory test work by three DLE developers; Chinese-based Chemphys Chengdu , California-based Lilac Solutions , and Eon Minerals . Results from both conventional and DLE test work are expected in Q1 2021 and will potentially define the optimal process for lithium production at the HMN Li Project.
"We are very pleased to move our project forward towards the pilot plant stage, as part of our evaluation of the best process to use in achieving lithium production at the HMN Li Project," said Lithium South President, Adrian F.C. Hobkirk.
Meanwhile in another part of the world, mining giant Rio Tinto Group /zigman2/quotes/202627887/composite RIO -1.92% is embroiled in what's shaping up to be a potentially major legal battle with the country of Serbia, regarding the company's planned "Jadar" lithium mine project which promised to make Rio Tinto one of the world's Top 10 lithium producers.
Rio Tinto already committed $2.4 billion to develop lithium-borates in the Jadar valley in 2021. However, widespread local opposition over concerns for environmental damage led to the local municipality scrapping the plan in late December.
"The project is paused until we in Serbia agree on what we want to do, whether we want to go farther in exploration, exploitation and use of lithium or not," said Serbian Prime Minister, Ana Brnabic, thus kicking the can down the road until after her country's upcoming April general election . "I think it is a decision for the future, and I believe it would be smarter, better and fairer if it is brought by the political elites that will lead the country in the next four years."
Undeterred, Rio Tinto has expressed that it remains committed to developing and advancing Jadar, upholding the highest environmental standards, and that it has been in regular dialogue with local communities throughout the project.
California-based EV truck manufacturers Rivian Automotive, Inc. /zigman2/quotes/230726939/composite RIVN -0.16% announced back in October it will opt to build its battery cells in-house , after originally sourcing its battery tech from Korea's Samsung SDI .
"Given the paramount importance and impact of the battery system on vehicle range, performance, and price, we have built in-house capabilities across the entire value chain," said Rivian in a company statement, adding that includes battery cell development, battery manufacturing expertise and critical raw materials sourcing.
Rivian also announced in July 2021, it was ready to invest $5 billion in its second US assembly plant.
Industry giants Tesla Inc. /zigman2/quotes/203558040/composite TSLA +1.24% recently signed a deal to source another key battery component (graphite) from outside of China—through Australian company Syrah Resources and its operations in Mozambique.
Tesla recently said no company was capable of domestically producing US graphite to the required specifications and capacity needed for its production. Graphite is used in the lithium-ion batteries powering EVs. Approximately 70% of all graphite comes from China, and there are few viable alternatives for batteries.
Rivalling Tesla is speculative up-and-comer Lucid Group, Inc. /zigman2/quotes/221104327/composite LCID -0.93% , whose 2030 EV production goals would be half of what Tesla's currently producing now. By 2026, the company reportedly has plans to build a plant in Saudi Arabia , after comments were made by Chairman Andrew Liveris regarding the company's next focus after successfully producing and selling cars in the USA.
Currently the Lucid Air is the reigning production EV range holder, at 520 miles between charges . But perhaps gaining more interest from the market, are rumors of a potential partnership with Apple to move forward on the Apple Car.
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