Jun 09, 2021 (Baystreet.ca via COMTEX) -- The Biden Administration just announced new steps to strengthen critical U.S. supply chains, which will include large capacity lithium batteries. In fact, according to CNBC, “The Department of Energy is aiming to release a 10-year plan to develop a domestic lithium battery supply chain capable of producing the batteries that power electric vehicles. The agency’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program will distribute $17 billion in an effort to support new research and manufacturing efforts in the United States.” That could be beneficial news for companies such as E3 Metals Corp. (TSX:CA:ETMC) (OTC:EEMMF) , Albemarle Corporation (NYS:ALB) , Lithium Americas (NYS:LAC) (TSE:CA:LAC) , American Lithium Corp. (TSX:CA:LI) (OTC:LIACF) , and Piedmont Lithium (NAS:PLL) .
According to a U.S. Department of Energy Fact Sheet, “With the global lithium battery market expected to grow by a factor of five to ten by 2030, it is imperative that the United States invests immediately in scaling up a secure, diversified supply chain for high-capacity batteries here at home. That means seizing a critical opportunity to increase domestic battery manufacturing while investing to scale the full lithium battery supply chain, including the sustainable sourcing and processing of the critical minerals used in battery production all the way through to end-of-life battery collection and recycling.”
Look at E3 Metals Corp. (TSX:CA:ETMC) (OTC:EEMMF) , for example
E3 Metals Corp. announced that the Research and Development on the sorbent technology has completed. The Company has selected the final candidates to advance into the process design phase with the commissioning of a flow column testing program at its Calgary Testing Facility.
E3 Metals has been developing its proprietary, lithium selective sorbent for the purposes of primary extraction of lithium from brine. This development work began with the University of Calgary in 2017 and has been the major focus for E3 Metals since the Company released its third resource report in 2018, now totaling 7.0Mt LCE inferred mineral resources, with opportunity for significant expansion. In February of this year, the Company opened its Testing Facility in Calgary and has seen an acceleration in the development of its sorbent technology.
Now generally referred to as Direct Lithium Extraction, or “DLE”, the Company’s proprietary sorbent selectively extracts lithium from the brine to create a high purity lithium concentrated solution. E3 Metals concentrated lithium solution forms the precursor to high-value lithium hydroxide, sold into the lithium-ion battery market. E3 has been focused on engineering the sorbent itself to simplify the process design in commercial applications and has finalized three forms of the sorbent for its commercial process and will be evaluating all three going forward.
The development team will be initiating continuous flow testing for each sorbent, providing critical data that will be used to select design parameters for its pilot plant. Each of the sorbent forms will be rigorously tested to evaluate their performance. The testing will continue to utilize brine collected from the Leduc Aquifer from the Clearwater Lithium Project area and will be operating the equipment at formation temperatures designed to simulate real-world conditions. This, in combination with the E3 Metals’ Aquifer Management Plan (AMP) development (see AMP update press release dated June 2, 2021), ensures that the technology being developed operates at optimal commercial efficiency.
Continuous flow testing is a significant step in proving the ability to extract the lithium in much larger quantities and is a critical step as E3 Metals increases the scale of its DLE process. The Company anticipates this testing will take approximately three months to complete. The next step after each sorbent form has been tested is to move the selected sorbents into the prototype phase and the Company anticipates that more than one sorbent will likely progress into this phase. During this next phase, the Company will be operating the pilot prototype tests in parallel to accelerate the timeframe towards our field-based pilot plant.
E3 Metals’ CEO, Chris Doornbos commented, “This is an incredible milestone for the Company. With the sorbent development now complete, we will be focusing on the process design, which ultimately means the pilot plant and commercial facility design. While there will be continual optimization of our sorbent, it will likely not change in form or design going forward and is a significant achievement for E3 Metals.”
Other related developments from around the markets include:
Albemarle Corporation announced the release of its annual global Sustainability Report . This year's report lays out meaningful and achievable targets for greenhouse gas emissions and water use. "Albemarle is a values-driven organization that is committed to doing the right things the right way, and sustainability is a key to our success," said Kent Masters, Albemarle CEO. "Our 2020 report illustrates the progress we made with our sustainability initiatives and incorporates our new targets, which are aimed at reducing energy and water use. Our new climate strategy also outlines how we intend to work with our key stakeholders and actively pursue operational efficiencies to help create a safer and more sustainable world."
Lithium Americas provided an update on the Caucharí-Olaroz lithium project in partnership with Ganfeng Lithium Co., Ltd in Jujuy province, Argentina. The Caucharí-Olaroz Partners have approved the commencement of development planning for a second stage expansion of at least an additional 20,000 tonnes per annum of lithium carbonate equivalent production capacity from Caucharí-Olaroz. “Caucharí-Olaroz is on track to become the largest new lithium brine operation in over 20 years,” commented George Ireland, Chairman of Lithium Americas, “With construction for Stage 1 expected to be complete within the next year, together with Ganfeng Lithium, we are beginning to plan our next phase of growth in Argentina.”
American Lithium Corp. and Plateau Energy Metals Inc. are pleased to announce the completion of the acquisition by American Lithium of all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Plateau by way of a statutory plan of arrangement under the provisions of the Business Corporations Act (Ontario). The Arrangement became effective as of 12:01 a.m. on May 11, 2021, resulting in Plateau becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of American Lithium.
Piedmont Lithium announced an updated Mineral Resource estimate for industrial mineral products quartz, feldspar, and mica. The estimate is based on the lithium Mineral Resource previously reported on April 8, 2021 (39.2Mt @ 1.09 Li2O%) for spodumene bearing pegmatites at the Company’s flagship Piedmont Carolina Lithium Project in North Carolina, USA.
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