Lake Resources NL (ASX:LKE) (OTCMKTS:LLKKF) (FRA:LK1) has demonstrated a clean technology path for the production of high purity lithium after a successful pilot demonstration plant, with plans for definitive feasibility study (DFS) and environmental and social impact study (ESIA) targeted this year at its flagship Kachi project in Argentina.
Its clean lithium is being tested in the latest batteries, with the company also targeting samples to offtake in 2021.
The company hopes to finalise financing and gain all the necessary approvals in 2022, with construction commencing and production targeted in 2024 with 25,500 tonnes per annum lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE).
Lake’s flagship Kachi Lithium Brine Project is fully funded through to the construction phase in 2022, which allows the company to speed development of sustainable, high purity lithium.
High purity lithium carbonate
The company has been able to produce 99.97% purity lithium carbonate from Kachi project brines after processing in the direct extraction pilot module of technology partner Lilac Solutions.
Battery grade is considered to be 99.5%.
The Kachi samples have very low impurities – 60 times less than 99.5% battery grade.
The ion exchange process offers durable performance with high lithium recovery of 80-98% and it tolerates impurities.
It is also low cost and scalable, with modules for rapid installation, no brine heating and requires low capital and operating costs.
Lake Resources’ high purity ‘clean’ lithium carbonate produced from Kachi brines has been sent to Novonix Ltd’s (ASX:NVX) (OTCQX:NVNXF) Novonix Battery Technology Solutions in Nova Scotia, Canada, to produce NMC622-based lithium-ion battery test cells.
Novonix is testing this lithium carbonate with the preliminary cathode precursor lithiation followed by full pilot-scale evaluation.
The program will be undertaken over four months with first results anticipated in February.
First samples of Lake’s high purity 99.97% lithium carbonate, produced from brines from Lake’s Kachi project in Argentina, has been dispatched by Hazen Research Inc.
Hazen continues to produce high purity 5-6 kilogram carbonate samples using a simple flowsheet from lithium chloride produced at the Lilac Solutions pilot plant module from Kachi brines.
Novonix Ltd provides high precision battery testing equipment to Tier-1 battery makers, including Panasonic, CATL, Samsung, SK Innovation, LG Chem, Bosch, Honda and Dyson.
Using Novonix’s pilot cell line, Lake’s high purity, responsibly-sourced lithium carbonate samples will be used together with commercial battery cathode precursor materials to form a NMC622 cathode that will then be processed into NMC622 lithium-ion batteries for testing.
This will enable Lake and its potential partners and customers to make direct and relevant comparisons of Lake’s lithium product’s performance in familiar battery chemistries.
One of largest growth areas
The lithium-ion batteries is one of the largest 21st-century growth areas, with 18 times more lithium production seen by 2030.
Although there are 181 battery factories targeted through to 2030, there is no lithium supply growth seen.
There is under-investment in new supply and the price of lithium is rising, with the China lithium spot price increased by 40% in January 2021.
Five of the largest lithium producers in the world all have operations in the lithium triangle in Argentina.
They include Albemarle Corporation (NYSE:ALB), Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (NYSE:SQM), Livent Corp (NYSE:LTHM) and Tianqi Lithium, Ganfeng Lithium Co Ltd/Lithium Americas joint venture.
Lake Resources has a large project at Kachi and three other brine projects covering over 220,000 hectares.
Lake is offering high purity battery materials, which are responsibly sourced, traceable and made sustainably with a smaller environmental footprint.
It is also offering a low-cost structure which is cost-competitive in delivering affordable EV batteries.
Story by ProactiveInvestors
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