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CATL backed firm announces plans to manufacturer 480,000 t/yr of lithium-ion battery materials

Wed, 12/15/2021 - 13:03 -- Paul Crompton

Chinese battery materials firm Guangdong Brunp Recycling Technology has begun building a lithium-ion battery cathode active material (CAM) plant in central China's Hubei province.

The project aims to meet increased demand from the new energy vehicle (NEV) industry on battery makers including Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL), which owns a 53% stake in Guangdong.

The 32-billion yuan ($4.9 billion) project will include production of 360,000 tonnes per year (t/yr) for iron phosphate; 220,000 t/yr for lithium iron phosphate (LFP); 180,000 t/yr for NCM precursor and NCM; 40,000 t/yr for lithium cobalt oxide (LCO); 40,000 t/yr for recycled graphite. 

The first phase is expected to start production in 2023 and be completed two years later, with its CAM output sufficient to equip more than four million NEVs.

Guangdong Brunp has an output capacity of 100,000 t/yr for NCM precursor and 20,000 t/yr for NCM material. 

It has previously invested in a high-pressure acid leaching project in Indonesia to produce mixed nickel-cobalt hydroxide precipitate, in partnership with Chinese cobalt refinery and battery material producer Green Eco-Manufacture (GEM) and domestic steel producer Tsingshan. 

That project is scheduled to launch in the first quarter of next year with 50,000 t/yr capacity of nickel metal equivalent and 5,000 t/yr of cobalt metal equivalent. 

Brunp also recycles cobalt/nickel/lithium scrap into raw materials.

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Money talks as study finds DRC is a “favourable” place to build lithium-ion materials plants

Wed, 12/01/2021 - 14:39 -- Paul Crompton

A study has identified the Democratic Republic of the Congo as a “favorable destination” for the supply of lithium-ion battery materials— despite ongoing humanitarian concerns about the mining practices in the African country. 

The reason behind the conclusion is that delivering battery materials is three times cheaper there than the US, a study by BloombergNEF (BNEF) found.

BNEF’s study on a unified African supply chain estimates it would cost $39 million to build a 10,000 metric-ton cathode precursor plant in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). 

A similar plant in China and Poland would cost an estimated $112 million and $65 million, respectively.

The report notes that the DRC is well positioned to leverage its abundant cobalt resources and hydroelectric power to become a low-cost and low-emissions producer of lithium-ion battery cathode precursor materials. 

The report—‘The Cost of Producing Battery Precursors in the DRC’— was launched at the DRC-Africa Business Forum 2021.

The study was commissioned by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Afreximbank, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), the African Legal Support Facility (ALSF), and the UN Global Compact.

Reducing emissions

The report found emissions associated with battery production could be cut by 30% compared with the existing materials supply chain that runs through China.

Emissions saving would be made if cathode precursor materials from the DRC were made into cathode materials and cells in Poland, and the final pack assembly was conducted in Germany. 

This is due to the DRC’s proximity to cathode raw materials and heavy reliance on hydroelectric power plants. 

Kwasi Ampofo, lead author of the report and BNEF’s head of metals and mining, said: “The DRC’s cost competitiveness comes from its relatively cheap access to land and low engineering, procurement and construction, or EPC, cost compared to the US, Poland and China.

“European cell manufacturers currently rely heavily on China for battery precursors. However, the raw materials for batteries are, in most cases, imported into China from Africa and refined before being exported to Europe. 

“Automakers in Europe can lower their emissions by shortening the transport distance and capitalising on the DRC’s hydroelectric powered grid and proximity to raw materials.”

James Frith, head of energy storage at BNEF said: “For regions to successfully attract battery component or cell manufacturing they need to have either a supply of key raw materials or local demand for batteries. 

“If they have access to raw materials, they can use this supply to attract downstream manufacturers. If they have local demand for batteries, cell manufacturers will move to the region to be close to their customers, particularly in the automotive industry. 

“Africa has a wealth of critical battery raw materials and is in a position to use these to attract more value-add in downstream processing and manufacturing.”

The full report is available here

Capturing the EV value chain

The DRC produces about 70% of global cobalt but captures just 3% of the battery and electric vehicle value chain, said Vera Songwe, un under-secretary general and executive secretary of the United Nations economic commission for Africa.  

Songwe added: “The DRC can receive other upstream mineral inputs needed for lithium-ion batteries – such as manganese from, say, South Africa and Madagascar, copper from Zambia, graphite from Mozambique and Tanzania, phosphate from Morocco, and lithium from Zimbabwe, to name but a few. 

“The DRC can truly become the regional and global centre of gravity for the production of precursor materials for batteries to drive the fourth industrial revolution. In so doing, the country and the rest of Africa can extend their access from the $271 billion battery precursor segment to the more lucrative $1.4 trillion combined battery cell production and cell assembly segments of the battery minerals global value chain.

This requires plenty of reliable and affordable power, which can be achieved by connecting Africa’s power systems with the Grand Inga at the core and with wind and solar power from North African countries, the Sahel and South Africa, geothermal from East Africa, hydro from Central and West Africa.” 

 President and CEO of Africa Finance Corporation, Samaila Zubairu, said: “Africa must benefit meaningfully from its abundance of energy transition metals by changing the extraction model. Unlike previous price booms, African countries need to move up the value chain through mineral beneficiation, smelting and refining, and move away from exporting unprocessed commodities.”

Olivier Pognon, director & CEO of ALSF, said: “The study confirms the cost competitiveness of establishing a battery precursor industry in the DRC based on local mineral resources. For the Africa Legal Support Facility (ALSF), such information is valuable for negotiating fair and equitable contracts that ensure that Africa retains maximum value from her mineral resources, while also contributing to the global energy transition.” 

Image: Capital cost to build a 10,000 metric-ton battery precursor. Source BloombergNEF. Note: The cost is for a 10,000 metric tons precursor facility and does not include any government subsidy. 

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Recycled battery material firm American Manganese appoints litigation expert as a director

Thu, 11/18/2021 - 14:19 -- Paul Crompton

Recycled battery materials firm American Manganese has appointed lawyer Paul Hildebrand as a director of the company— eight years after he first worked at the firm. 

The company’s CEO Larry Reaugh said Hildebrand had proven abilities in the field of litigation and was a welcome addition to the company.

Hildebrand was previously a director at the Canadian firm from 2007 to 2013.

The company’s board of directors granted Hildebrand 400,000 stock options with an exercise price of $0.80 per share and expiring five years from today.

Last month, American Manganese successfully produced lithium sulfate (Li2SO4) with 99.99% purity using its RecycLiCo™ lithium-ion battery recycling process. 

The bulk sample of lithium sulfate was sent to an unnamed international lithium producer for validation.

The process first leached lithium-ion battery cathode scrap and black-mass material with an extraction efficiency of more than 99%. 

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Materials firm to make LFP and NCM lithium-ion battery materials as it boosts output in China

Wed, 10/13/2021 - 15:28 -- Paul Crompton

Battery materials firm GEM is preparing to build a lithium nickel-cobalt-manganese oxide (NCM) and lithium iron phosphate (LFP) precursor production facility in China.

The Chinese firm plans to invest 2.8 billion yuan ($431million) to build the complex in Jingmen city, central China's Hubei province, to meet its 2030 carbon-neutrality targets.

It is the first time GEM has added LFP and LFP precursor to its product portfolio.

Products from the facility will be ready for sale in the first quarter of next year with 50,000 t/yr of nickel metal equivalent and 5,000 t/yr of cobalt metal equivalent. 

The planned plant will have a 80,000t/yr capacity for ultra-high nickel NCM precursors, 50,000 t/yr for LFP, 100,000t/yr for iron phosphate, 15,000t/yr for high-purity lithium carbonate and 20,000t/yr for high-purity manganese sulphate, as well as an integrated solid waste disposal unit.

Further details including the construction schedules and launch dates were undisclosed, reported news outlet Argus Media.

The company's key products include NCM ternary precursors, cobalt tetroxide (16,000 t/yr), cobalt powder and cobalt metal (3,000 t/yr), as well as lithium cobalt oxide (LCO).

GEM's NCM precursors are mainly sold to South Korea's Samsung SDI, Ecopro BM, China's XTC New Energy Materials (Xiamen Tungsten), Brunp and Rongbay. 

The firm's feedstock comes from Switzerland-based Glencore through long-term contracts, and has invested in a high-pressure acid leaching project in Indonesia to produce mixed nickel-cobalt hydroxide precipitate, in partnership with key NCM precursor and NCM manufacturer Brunp and major domestic steelmaker Tsingshan. 

GEM also recycles cobalt/nickel/lithium scrap into raw material.

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Chinese firm plans to build out 160,000tpa of lithium-ion materials capability by 2024

Wed, 10/06/2021 - 09:56 -- Paul Crompton

China-based cathode research and development firm XTC New Energy Materials is planning to invest at least $1.55 billion (CNY10 billion) in a lithium battery materials project in Sichuan province.

The project includes a plant to manufacture 100,000tpa of lithium iron phosphate and 60,000tpa of ternary materials, according to news outlet Reuters.

A letter of intent has been signed by XTC and Yaan Economic and Technological Development Zone in Sichuan, south-west China, according to reports.

The company is principally engaged in the research and development, production and sales of cathode materials for lithium-ion batteries; with its main products being lithium cobalt oxide and nickel-cobalt-manganese ternary materials, including nickel, cobalt and manganese.

The plant is due to be built in stages, with Phase I having 20,000tpa manufacturing capacity for lithium iron phosphate and 20,000tpa for ternary materials.

The lithium iron phosphate component of the project is due to be commissioned in 2023 at an estimated cost of $190 million (CNY1.2 billion), 

The ternary materials component is expected to cost $340 million (CNY2.2 billion), and is scheduled for commissioning in 2024.

The project will also include a 10,000tpa nickel and cobalt smelter for battery recycling. 

XTC, a unit of metals and rare earths producer Xiamen Tungsten, is due to submit a feasibility study to its board and plans to fund the project from bank loans.

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LG Chem begins billion-dollar plan to be world’s biggest battery materials firm

Thu, 08/12/2021 - 15:41 -- Paul Crompton
LG CHem office building

LG Chem has bought the battery materials manufacturing arm of its subsidiary LG Electronics in a bid to become the “world’s largest general battery materials company”.

The Korean firm bought the operations of the Chemical Electronic Material (CEM) business sector under the LG Electronics’ Business Solution Division for 525 billion KRW ($456 million).

The purchase will bring the four key materials for batteries under LG Chem’s roof, in addition to its existing businesses in the anode materials, cathode binders, electrolyte additive, and CNT (carbon nanotube) sectors.

The announcement on 29 July includes all “tangible and intangible” assets such as production facilities and personnel in the business sector. 

The LG Electronics CEM Division manufactures battery materials such as separation membranes and display materials, and it has production facilities in Cheongju Korea, Hangzhou of China, and Wroclaw of Poland. 

Billion-dollar investment 

LG Chem plans to invest 6 trillion KRW ($5 billion), including this acquisition, to become the world’s top general battery materials company.

The firm plans to build a 60,000-ton capacity plant in Gumi, South Korea, this December for the cathode material business. 

Through this, the cathode production capacity of LG Chem will increase from 40,000 tons last year to 260,000 tons by 2026.

A joint venture is being prepared with an unnamed mining company for the supply of metals that will be used as the raw materials for anode materials. 

The company is also set to focus R&D on anode materials, separation membranes, cathode binders, and radiant adhesives to “differentiate its technologies and acquire market leadership”. 

It also plans to triple CNT production scale from 1,700 tons by 2025. 

In June 2020, LG Chem announced it would invest around KRW 65 billion ($53 million, at the time) to expand CNT manufacturing by 1,200 tons at its Yeosu plant from Q1 of this year.

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LGES signs 45mt off-take deal to secure lithium-ion battery supply from Vulcan

Thu, 08/05/2021 - 11:23 -- Paul Crompton
lithium hydroxide

Battery maker LG Energy Solution, a subsidiary of LG Chem, has signed a lithium-ion battery materials off-take deal with Vulcan Energy.

The Australian firm will supply up to 45 metric tonnes of lithium hydroxide over the five-year term of the deal.

Pricing will be based on market prices for lithium hydroxide.

The five-year agreement could be extended by a further five years, with the start of commercial delivery set for 2025.

LG will purchase 5,000 metric tonnes of battery grade lithium hydroxide the first year, ramping up to 10,000 metric tonnes per year during the subsequent years of the deal.

Vulcan said conditions precedent to the start of commercial delivery include execution of a definitive formal offtake agreement on materially the same terms by the end of November 2021, successful start of commercial operation and full product qualification.

Vulcan managing director, Dr. Francis Wedin, said: “This is the first binding lithium off-take term sheet for the Zero Carbon Lithium™ Project, so it is fitting that it is with the largest EV battery producer in the world. LGES’s operations are of course global, but it is already producing batteries in Europe. 

“The agreement is in line with our strategy to work with Tier One battery and automotive companies in the European market.”

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Battery materials firm hopes new VP’s government contacts will boost business

Mon, 07/05/2021 - 10:02 -- Paul Crompton
6K has appointed Mary Cronin as vice-president of government affairs

Lithium-ion battery materials firm 6K has appointed Mary Cronin as vice-president of government affairs on the US firm’s executive leadership team. 

6K hopes Cronin’s contribution will add to the growing number of Defence Logistics Agency programs the company has been awarded.

Those programs include the $1 million DLA phase II program to establish a domestic capability to recover and convert critical metals from defense scrap into premium additive manufacturing powder.

Cronin has links to Capital Hill, the Defense Logistics Agency, the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense and strategic defense primes.

6K CEO Aaron Bent said: “Issues like battery manufacturing in the US, of which there is near zero capability currently, and securing critical elements like titanium domestically, pose a national threat to the country. 

“Our production platform can be a key driving force in solving these issues. Having Mary leading these initiatives with the highest levels of government will give us a strong voice in DC and uncover more strategic program opportunities.”

Cronin said she was attracted to the company because of its potential to impact domestic [US] battery production and its commitment to a new Battery Center of Excellence.

In April, 6K announced plans for the $25 million, 33,000 square-foot, Center of Excellence facility in Massachusetts to develop sustainable battery materials for energy storage devices, with a focus on electric vehicles, grid storage, and consumer goods.

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Cathode joint development agreement to supply lithium-ion battery market

Mon, 06/21/2021 - 08:22 -- Paul Crompton
Cathode joint development agreement to supply lithium-ion battery market

Battery materials firm Nano One Materials Corp and Johnson Matthey have signed a joint development agreement to co-develop next generation cathode products.

The agreement will focus on developing materials, methods of production and a detailed commercialisation study for pre-pilot, pilot and scaled up manufacturing. 

Johnson Matthey will use Nano One's patented one-pot process and coated nanocrystal technology in its eLNO® portfolio of nickel-rich advanced cathode materials.

The one-pot process is designed to form a cathode material known as ‘coated single crystal’, which enables the materials to be made directly from metal powders and lithium carbonate. 

The agreement is the culmination of successful technical reviews and preliminary evaluations of both Nano One's high-nickel cathode materials and IP conducted over the past year.

The deal represents a significant milestone in the business relationship between both companies.

Christian Gunther, chief executive, battery materials at Johnson Matthey said the firms’ technology has the potential advantages in terms of product performance, sustainability and manufacturing cost.

Johnson Matthey aims to make 10,000 million tonnes per annum of its eLNO at a plant scheduled to open next year in Konin, Poland.

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Alumina firm moves to next stage of commercialising its lithium-ion battery boosting material

Mon, 09/28/2020 - 10:48 -- Paul Crompton

Battery materials firm Altech Chemicals is in the final development stage of its high purity alumina (HPA) grade material designed to increase performance of lithium-ion battery anodes. 

The Western Australian-based company is proceeding to an independent verification phase of its method for the alumina coating of graphite particles. 

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