Ford Motor Company announced a series of new lithium product supply agreements on Monday to support its plan to greatly increase electric vehicle (EV) production over the next several years. The carmaker has stated that it intends to produce 2 million EVs per year by 2026.
Ford announced an 11-year partnership with Nemaska Lithium to supply lithium for its EV batteries. The arrangement calls for the delivery of up to 13,000 tons of lithium hydroxide per year. Ford will be the first customer of Nemaska, which is owned equally by the Quebec government’s industrial development agency and Philadelphia-based Livent Corporation.
EnergySource Minerals, based in California, was also tapped to supply “sustainably produced lithium” as a significant domestic option. The company’s projected lithium hydroxide manufacturing will be directed to Ford’s Project ATLiS, which is set to begin in 2025. ATLiS is expected to produce roughly 20,000 metric tons of lithium per year, enough to facilitate the production of approximately 500,000 EVs annually.
Albemarle also announced a five-year supply agreement with Ford for lithium hydroxide beginning in 2026 to deliver more than 100,000 metric tons of battery-grade lithium hydroxide for 3 million future Ford EV batteries.
The companies also stated that they intend to work together to develop a closed-loop solution for lithium-ion battery recycling.
Compass Minerals announced a formal agreement with Ford on Monday to supply the Dearborn-based carmaker with battery-grade lithium carbonate from its Ogden, Utah, lithium brine development project. Compass Minerals will deliver up to 40% of its anticipated phase-one battery-grade lithium carbonate to Ford for a five-year term once production begins, according to the terms.
Sociedad Qumica y Minera de Chile is also on the list of companies that announced a long-term arrangement Monday to provide lithium products to Ford. SQM stated that their lithium could assist Ford EVs qualify for Inflation Reduction Act consumer tax credits and enhance its footprint in global electric mobility markets.
Chile has the world’s largest lithium reserves, while the United States and Canada rank fifth and sixth. However, a recent push by the US and Canadian governments has led to an increase in lithium exploration in North America.
Alberta is a Canadian province with considerable lithium deposits, set to compete in the global lithium market, which is expected to triple in size by 2025.
Production of High Purity, Battery Grade Lithium
Among the companies with lithium projects in Alberta is E3 Lithium Ltd (TSXV:ETL) (OTCQX:EEMMF), a leading lithium developer and extraction technology innovator.
E3 Lithium recently increased the mineral resource in Alberta to 16.0 Mt LCE of Measured and Indicated Mineral Resources and 0.9 LCE of Inferred Mineral Resources. According to Natural Resources Canada statistics, Canada now possesses 3.2 million tonnes of M&I lithium resources in hard rock deposits, meaning that E3’s 16.0 million tonnes of LCE M&I is the country’s largest M&I lithium resource.
The company filed a 43-101 Technical Report: Lithium Resource Estimate for the Bashaw District Project in April.
Apart from developing its vast resource, E3 Lithium has also created a novel Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) ion-exchange technology to develop high purity lithium products for direct sale to the EV battery market. The technology uses a proprietary sorbent designed to be highly selective towards lithium ions that quickly and efficiently converts large volumes of low-grade brine into a high-grade lithium concentrate while removing impurities.
E3 Lithium is working on a field pilot project that will demonstrate DLE technology in real-world operational scenarios. Its first proposed Phase 1 plans for 20,000 tonnes/year of lithium hydroxide monohydrate (LHM), with the potential to expand up to 150,000 tonnes LHM per year.
On May 16, E3 Lithium provided an update on the status of its field pilot project. The company has been advancing preparation activities to ensure the site is ready for pilot operations since receiving approval of its Facility License on April 11, 2023.
The lithium extraction process equipment and E3‘s sorbent are still being manufactured offsite and are expected to arrive in early Q3. The Company believes that once the equipment arrives on site, it will take approximately 4 weeks to install and commission it before full operations can begin.
E3 Lithium recently reported fourth-quarter and fiscal-year 2022 results. Last year’s highlights included receiving $27 million from the Canadian government’s Strategic Innovation Fund, signing a $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 past year, E3 Lithium has successfully manufactured its first batch commercial scale sorbent, which is critical to the success and commercialization of its ion-exchange DLE technology, as well as drilled the first two brine production wells at the Clearwater Project to evaluate lithium and sampled three wells, confirming the aquifer’s producibility and lithium concentrations in its proposed production area.
For more information about E3 Lithium Ltd (TSXV:ETL) (OTCQX:EEMMF), please visit this link or their website at e3lithium.ca.
Featured Image @ Wikimedia Commons
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