Major Automaker Moves to Secure Critical Lithium Supply for Electric Vehicles

With automakers scrambling for lithium supply, General Motors just announced it will be investing in a U.S. lithium project, according to Reuters. In fact, GM notes it “will make a multimillion-dollar investment in and help develop Controlled Thermal Resources (CTR) Hell’s Kitchen geothermal brine project near California’s Salton Sea, roughly 160 miles (258 km) southeast of Los Angeles.” That could force other major automakers to do something similar, as the electric vehicle story accelerates. That could be great news for related companies such as E3 Metals Corp. (TSXV:ETMC)(OTC:EEMMF), Albemarle Corporation (NYSE:ALB), Lithium Americas (NYSE:LAC)(TSX:LAC), American Lithium Corp. (TSXV:LI)(OTC:LIACF), and Piedmont Lithium (NASDAQ:PLL).

Even the International Energy Agency just warned, “The supply of critical minerals crucial for technologies such as wind turbines and electric vehicles will have to be ramped up over the next decades if the planet’s climate targets are to be met. At least 30 times as much lithium, nickel and other key minerals may be required by the electric car industry by 2040 to meet global climate targets.”

Look at E3 Metals Corp. (TSXV:ETMC)(OTC:EEMMF), for example

E3 Metals Corp., an emerging lithium developer and leading direct lithium extraction (“DLE”) technology innovator, is pleased to announce that it has appointed Mr. Jonathan Nielsen as its Director of Technology, effective July 12, 2021. Mr. Nielsen brings over 30 years of experience and technical expertise in process development and optimization specific to base metals and lithium processing technology development from lab to commercial commissioning.

“We are thrilled to appoint Mr. Nielsen to our management team. This is a critical function for E3 Metals and Jonathan will guide the technical development of both the Company’s proprietary DLE and our lithium production processes towards commercialization,” commented CEO, Chris Doornbos. “Jonathan’s expertise in coordinating scalable operations, R&D, engineering, and executive management will be well-suited as E3 accelerates towards its goal of producing lithium hydroxide in Alberta.”

Jonathan has held senior roles with several internationally recognized companies including FLSmidth, an organization providing sustainable productivity solutions to the global mining and cement industries to lower costs and reduce environmental impact, where Jonathan was Director of their Global Hydromet Process Line, managing several significant roles including base metal and lithium brine business development, process design, testing, and project costing. Prior to his time with FLSmidth, Jonathan spent 11 years with Engitec Technologies (USA Division) where he held progressively senior roles including; Site Technology Manager where he worked internationally managing the scale-up of proprietary hydrometallurgical technologies and plant commissioning, and ultimately holding the position of Managing Director where he oversaw all activities and development under the USA operations. Prior to his tenure with Engitec, Mr. Nielsen was President & Co-owner of OEM Solutions from 1999 to 2008 where he grew the business from start-up to multi-million dollar revenue.

Mr. Nielsen earned a Bachelor of Science in Metallurgical Engineering from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and has been an active member, author and presenter for the Society for Mining, Metallurgical and Exploration (SME) and the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM).

Other related developments from around the markets include:

Albemarle Corporation, a leader in the global specialty chemicals industry, announced the opening of the company's Battery Materials Innovation Center (BMIC) located at its Kings Mountain, North Carolina, site. The BMIC is expected to be fully operational in July 2021 and will support Albemarle's lithium hydroxide, lithium carbonate and advanced energy storage materials growth platforms. It has been equipped to enable synthesis of new materials, material properties characterization and analysis, material scale-up capabilities, and material integration into battery cells for performance testing.

Lithium Americas provided an update on the Caucharí-Olaroz lithium project in partnership with Ganfeng Lithium Co., Ltd in Jujuy province, Argentina. The Caucharí-Olaroz Partners have approved the commencement of development planning for a second stage expansion of at least an additional 20,000 tonnes per annum of lithium carbonate equivalent production capacity from Caucharí-Olaroz. “Caucharí-Olaroz is on track to become the largest new lithium brine operation in over 20 years,” commented George Ireland, Chairman of Lithium Americas, “With construction for Stage 1 expected to be complete within the next year, together with Ganfeng Lithium, we are beginning to plan our next phase of growth in Argentina.”

American Lithium Corp. provided details of a recent breakthrough on process development at its Tonopah Lithium Claims Project located close to Tonopah, Nevada. Dr. Laurence Stefan, COO of American Lithium, states, “The early success of roasting demonstrates once again the robust nature of the TLC lithium resource and its processing versatility. This new metallurgical approach opens the door widely to produce either lithium carbonate or lithium hydroxide or both from the TLC project. The extremely low level of impurities in the leachate provides many advantages over the successful sulfuric acid leaching technique that has been the focus to date. We are excited to investigate the roasting route further and will be comparing the overall environmental and economic profiles of each route to make the best decision for the project moving forward.”

Piedmont Lithium announced that it has entered into definitive agreements to establish a strategic partnership with IronRidge Resources through the purchase of an equity stake in IRR, staged project investments to earn a 50% interest in IRR’s Ghana-based lithium portfolio, and a binding supply agreement for 50% of IRR Ghana’s planned spodumene concentrate production. IRR Ghana has an impressive portfolio of spodumene prospects, anchored by the highly promising Ewoyaa Project. The Ewoyaa Project has a current Mineral Resource of 14.5Mt @ 1.31% Li2O with vast exploration potential. The Ewoyaa Project has the potential to be a large, low-cost spodumene concentrate producer.

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