Eye on Lithium: Bolivian lithium race heats up with 6 DLE players left in the running
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All your ASX lithium news for Friday, June 17.
The Bolivian lithium race is heating up, with the country short-listing six companies to help it extract lithium – in a step that could eventually open up the world’s largest potential resource of the battery metal.
The country hosts 21 million tonnes out of the 89 million tonnes that make up the world’s known lithium resources, according to the US Geological Survey, although none of it is listed as commercially viable.
The country’s state-owned lithium producer said it would test direct-lithium extraction (DLE) technologies from six companies on three different brine resources in the country.
The companies still in the running are Russia’s Uranium One, US start-up Lilac Solutions (backed by German carmaker BMW and Bill Gates’s Breakthrough Energy Ventures) along with giant Chinese battery maker CATL and Chinese firms Fusion Enertech, TBEA and CITIC Guoan Group.
All of the firms use Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technology which promises to produce cheaper, higher quality, and more environmentally friendly lithium than incumbent processes. This is partly because traditional evaporation ponds have failed in country due to naturally high concentrations of magnesium.
Benchmark Minerals Intelligence Boss Simon Moores points out that none of these companies have actually exploited lithium at a commercial scale before and that “they need lithium majors that have been there and done it.”
Bolivia 🇧🇴 has selected 6 DLE players to try to develop its #lithium at salar de Uyuni, Coipasa, Pastos Grandes
🇨🇳 4 x China: CATL, CITIC GUAON, XINJIANG TBEA, Fusion
🇷🇺 1 x Russia: Uranium One
🇺🇸 1 x USA: Lilac
20 companies > 8 > the final 6
More from @benchmarkmin
— Simon Moores (@sdmoores) June 16, 2022
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A total of 25 stocks were in the green, 37 flatlined and only 66 were in the red.
The company has identified lithium-cesium-tantalum (LCT) pegmatites in aircore drilling at its West Spargoville project – plus a large LCT halo extending over 2km and up to 300m wide which will be followed up with reverse-circulation drilling to test for bedrock mineralisation.
“We are currently systematically exploring the Project with RC drilling continuing for the forseeable future and will begin another round of aircore drilling in the last week of June so it is a very exciting time for the company,” executive chairman Charles Thomas said.
Lake has appointed Citi and J.P. Morgan as joint coordinators for proposed debt finance of its 50,000 tpa lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) Kachi project in Argentina.
The two investment banks will work together on the debt financing package for Kachi, with the ongoing support of GKB Ventures Ltd and SD Capital Advisory Limited.
The contemplated debt financing will be based on the indicative support by UK Export Finance (UKEF, the Export Credit Agency of the United Kingdom) to cover approximately 70% of the total Kachi Project funding requirement, subject to UKEF approval and to standard project finance conditions.
It is also planned to have Export Development of Canada, (EDC, Canada’s Export Credit Agency) to participate alongside UKEF as the lead ECA, under a Common Terms Agreement.
Lake says the amount of the proposed debt financing will be governed, among other things, by the outcomes of the DFS currently underway.
Vulcan says the City Council of Landau, which covers part of Vulcan’s geothermal production license at Insheim, as well as the Landau Süd production licence where Vulcan has a brine offtake agreement with the operator, has voted in support of a few project developments.
These include voting to a) support geothermal energy production in the area, and b) take a positive stance towards the extraction of lithium from geothermal brine, upon consideration of climate protection goals as well as the interests of the regional-urban development in the area.
The company said the positive City Council vote towards geothermal energy and lithium extraction is an important development milestone and first step of the community to enable geothermal-lithium development – marking a significant point in the progress of the Zero Carbon Lithium business in Europe.
INF has included its wholly owned Spanish subsidiary, Extremadura New Energies in the major private-public alliance SOI H2-ALEX (‘the Group’) which is focused on green hydrogen developments in Spain and Portugal.
In alliance with around 30 entities, the Group’s pipeline of work includes the advancement of an Iberian green hydrogen project and pipeline from Lisbon in Portugal to Puertollano in Spain, with a branch extended to Cáceres.
“The new project designed by Extremadura New Energies is proposing the use of green hydrogen for calcining and roasting of the lithium bearing materials instead of natural gas,” Extremadura New Energies CEO, Ramón Jiménez said.
“This is in addition to the use of 100% renewable energy and the incorporation of electric vehicles, allowing us to develop an environmentally and socially viable project with the minimisation of the major emitting sources of energy.
“The carbon footprint makes this plant unique in Europe and meets the highest standards of sustainability.”
EVR has approved Austrian geological consultants, GEO Unterweissacher, to carry out the exploration strategy for the company’s satellite Eastern Alps Lithium Project in Austria.
“The outcome of this step in the strategy is a map containing exploration areas for soil Geo chemistry and/or possible drill hole program,” executive director Adrian Paul says.
“Previous reviews indicate good potential for lithium mineralization, with various results up to >3% Li2O.”
The project is owned 80% by EVR and 20% by European Lithium (ASX:EUR).
At Stockhead we tell it like it is. While Lake Resources is a Stockhead advertiser, it did not sponsor this article.