There’s some big movers  this morning in the lithium and cobalt space — but first, let’s look at high purity alumina (HPA), which is in demand from the electric vehicle, battery and power storage markets.

Ambitious junior King River Resources (ASX:KRR) wants produce at least five high purity metal products from its Speewah Specialty Metals (SSM) project in the East Kimberley of Western Australia.

Formerly the Speewah vanadium project, King River changed tack after its vanadium focused scoping study estimated start-up costs of over $2 billion.

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Now, the company is looking to boost project economics by also producing things like titanium and iron products, along with other potential high value specialty products like HPA.

A Prefeasibility Study (PFS) is underway to examine several process routes to economically extract these commodities.

Today, King River announced that HPA assaying 99.99 per cent Al2O3 (4N HPA) had been produced from sulphuric acid leach solutions.

It’s early days, but King River chairman Anthony Barton says the results are promising.

“The Board is most encouraged by this initial HPA precipitation test result, which has the potential to add a material new revenue stream to the SSM project,” he says.

“Steps are currently being made to try and include aluminium and magnesium in our JORC resource statements to enable these potential future revenue streams to be included in prefeasibility studies.”

And investors agreed – sending the stock up almost 20 per cent in morning trade.


In other battery metals news today:

Lithium Australia (ASX:LIT) has signed a deal to sell Chinese battery packs in Australia. The company has signed a letter of intent with leading Chinese battery producer DLG Battery to sell DLG batteries in Australia. But there’s more to it; the 50:50 JV will also look to fast-track the use of Lithium Australia’s cathode powders in DLG batteries, as well as establish pack and module manufacturing within Australia. The partners “intend to complete the required planning” by 30 June 2019, Lithium Australia says.
First Cobalt (ASX:FCC) advances its cobalt refinery restart in Ontario, Canada. The company wants to become the first North American refiner of battery grade cobalt sulfate. It has launched a scoping study on restarting the First Cobalt Refinery, which could produce 2,000 tonnes of cobalt sulfate or metallic cobalt per year. Results of this study are due in a few weeks time.

Market darling Liontown Resources (ASX:LTR) is one of the year’s biggest movers – just check out the rocket it caught over April and May.

The explorer keeps finding thick zones of high grade lithium outside the current resource  at its Kathleen Valley lithium-tantalum project in WA. The latest round of drilling results, which includes 18m at 1.6 per cent Li2O from 189m, could substantially increase the current mineral resource estimate, the company says.