US Western Lithium has started calcination of lithium clay at its lithium-rich clay deposit in Nevada, US.
The calcination is the first step of three in order to demonstrate the company’s lithium extracting technology on large scale. According to Western Lithium, the plant is operational and able to calcine up to 12 tonnes of clay per day.
The company plans to produce 26,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent per year and stated that this would meet the lithium demand for 500,000 to over 1m electric cars with integrated lithium batteries.
“With dozens of automotive and consumer electronics companies now planning product expansions using lithium-ion batteries, there is a basic requirement for incremental production of non-substitutable lithium molecules,” said Jay Chmelauskas, CEO of Western Lithium.
“We see the potential for Nevada to become a major international hub for lithium production,” added Chmelauskas and said that Tesla’s decision to build its „gigafactory” in Nevada will open new business opportunities for Western Lithium.
The downstream leaching, crystallisation and precipitation process at the plant is still under construction and is expected to be operational in November this year. The planned production of lithium compounds will continue until spring 2015 to determine parameters for Western Lithium’s extraction feasibility study.