Japanese holding company SoftBank has signed an agreement to acquire a stake of up to 9.9% in Canada’s Nemaska Lithium.
SoftBank said the undisclosed investment amount in the lithium development firm will help to meet growing demand for batteries uses in electric devices and electric vehicles.
Canadian development firm Nemaska Lithium has announced the production of 1.5 tonnes of battery grade lithium hydroxide produced from its Wabouchi spodumene mine in Quebec.
Nemaska president and CEO Guy Bourassa said: “This is the first time a new entrant to the market has produced battery grade lithium hydroxide from ore to final product.”
Canadian company Nemaska Lithium Inc has secured a $12.87million technology commercialisation grant to produce compounds for the lithium battery market.
The grant will help fund a Lithium hydroxide hydromet processing plant in Quebec with the aim of producing lithium compounds by 2016.
The $39million pilot plant will transform spodumene concentrate into 500 tonnes of high purity lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate each year.
The funding came from the federally-funded Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) as the country attempts to position itself as a global leader in the clean technology sector.
The multi-million dollar grant to the Quebec based company was the largest ever awarded under the SDTC program.
Once built, Nemaska intends to use the facility to demonstrate its proprietary lithium hydroxide technology and produce commercial samples to send to end users in the lithium battery market.
In tandem, the Corporation is developing a spodumene lithium hard rock deposit. Spodumene concentrate produced at Nemaska's Whabouchi mine and from other global sources will be shipped to the Corporation's new plant.
The open-pit mine and concentrator, along with a refinery near Montreal, have a total capital cost of $500million and an annual capacity of 28,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide and 3,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate.
Guy Bourassa President and CEO of Nemaska Lithium said: "Today's batteries are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and battery manufacturers typically take up to 12 months to qualify a new supplier of lithium hydroxide.
"By building the Phase 1 Plant in advance of the commercial hydromet plant and lithium mine we expect to be qualified suppliers before we are in full production."
He added: “This is the greenest method of producing lithium compounds for lithium ion batteries and electric vehicles globally.”
Nemaska intends to become a lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate producer and has filed patent applications for its proprietary methods to produce these compounds.