Eye on Lithium: Rio invests US$10m in Canadian lithium-ion battery cathode producer
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All your ASX lithium news for Tuesday, June 14.
Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) has teamed up with Canadian lithium-ion battery cathode producer Nano One (TSX:NANO) to provide iron and lithium products for its manufacturing process.
The mining giant has also made a US$10m strategic equity investment for an approximate 4.9% stake in the company.
Along with the partnership, this is expected to accelerate Nano One’s Nano One’s patented One Pot Process and metal to cathode active material (M2CAM) technologies form a unique manufacturing platform that enables nickel-rich (NMC), iron-rich (LFP) and manganese-rich (LNMO) lithium-ion cathode active materials to be made sulphate-free from a range of battery metal sources with fewer steps, lower costs, less complexity and a much smaller environmental footprint.
Rio says it will also contribute know-how from its Critical Minerals and Technology Centre, which has developed a unique expertise in the extraction and processing of critical minerals such as lithium and scandium, as well as minerals from Canada, the United States, and other international sources to further drive localisation of the lithium-ion battery value chain.
“Localised, clean and secure supply chains are critical for the success of the energy transition that is now underway, and this requires partnerships with innovative companies like Nano One to help us differentiate, disrupt and accelerate the path to a net-zero future,” MD of Rio’s Battery Materials portfolio Marnie Finlayson said.
Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson says critical minerals are a generational opportunity for Canada, and that the partnership is “an example of the collaboration we need to develop a globally competitive supply chain that will position Canada to lead in the global energy transition.”
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Winsome flagged high- grades of lithium up to 5.6% detected near-surface in initial assay results at its Cancet project in Quebec.
As a result of this drill program, the total identified strike length of identified pegmatites has increased from 600m to 1,200m – with numerous follow-up targets for drill testing highlighted.
The company also reckons there’s the potential for a scalable, near-surface resource at Cancet.
“The results also increase our knowledge of the ore body, with a view to extending the known mineralisation to the east, north and west, keeping us on track to declare a resource in the near term,” MD Chris Evans said.
Resource definition drilling is planned for Cancet in the Northern Autumn 2022 and into early 2023.
The company has almost doubled its footprint of lithium brine tenements in Argentina again from 12,400 to 21,900 Ha with an option to acquire another 4 land packages.
The La Fortuna, La Fortuna1, La Potola and Justina tenements have a total area of 9,500Ha in close proximity to Lake Resources (ASX:LKE) Kachi project.
“Having recently finalised our investment of Luz Maria which gives XTC a total of 12,400 Ha, we have now secured an exclusive option over a further 9,500Ha,” MD Richard Henning said.
“This Triangle is one of the most exciting and valuable regions in the world providing high purity lithium to drive the world’s electric vehicle future.
“We are delighted to have acquired such high-quality projects, located next to Tier One clean lithium developers.”
Morella has kicked off direct lithium extraction (DLE) test work at its Fish Lake Valley brine project in Nevada, USA.
The aim is to provide a preliminary economic assessment of lithium extraction using Recion Technologies DLE solution – which requires a smaller environmental footprint, provides optimal yield and efficient use of water.
Recion will report on operating economic factors based on feed grade of the brine sample, including reagent consumption, sorbent costs, recovery rates, power consumption, water consumption and tailings composition.
The study will be completed at benchtop scale and is expected to be completed in 10-12 weeks – and if successful could ultimately lead to a pilot plant at Morella’s discretion.
PAM says its on track to deliver its inaugural mineral resource for the Reung Kiet Lithium Project (RKLP) in Thailand next week.
MD Paul Lock says this puts the company firmly in sight of its initial production target of 10,000 tonnes per annum LCE for 10 years.
“From here our aim is to increase the Mineral Resource based on the additional drilling at Reung Kiet, and to also evaluate the Exploration Target at the Bang I Tum Prospect, both prospects form the Reung Kiet Lithium Project,” he said.
“We will then move onto other targets at RKLP and at the Kata Thong Geothermal Lithium and Hardrock Lithium-Tin Project to the north, which is currently under application.”
The company says as the only active lithium explorer in the region, its positioning itself to be the only producer of lithium chemicals using feedstock sourced from the southeast Asian region.
Bench-scale metallurgical testing for AZL’s Big Sandy resource has wrapped up, and will form the basis for the scoping study which is expected to be completed in July.
“Importantly, the testwork has confirmed production of at least 99.8% battery- grade lithium, as we seek to supply the rapidly growing EV market in North America, which continues to be driven by the shift towards decarbonised transport,” MD Paul Lloyd said.
“Over the coming periods, we will continue to refine the design of the Big Sandy Project at our new Lithium Research Center located in Phoenix, Arizona.
“This Center will play an important role as we continue to fast track the development of the Big Sandy Lithium Project.”
The centre is currently in the engineering/procurement phase with construction anticipated to begin in Q3 2022.
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