ABTC hails lithium resource as 'one of best in US'

Hopes grow for another material domestic lithium source making it to production

ABTC hails lithium resource as 'one of best in US'
Less than 2pc of global lithium supply is sourced from within the US currently

US battery materials firm American Battery Technology Company (ABTC) says its Tonopah Flats lithium project (TFLP) in Nevada contains over 18mn t of lithium, following an assessment of the resource.

The preliminary economic assessment, filed with the US Securities Exchange Commission, found that the project has the potential to produce 33,000t/yr of lithium at a production cost of $4,636/t.

"We are excited to...further refine the analysis of the magnitude and quality of this unconventional, domestic lithium resource, and also to detail the financial competitiveness of bringing this resource and commercial-scale lithium hydroxide refinery to market," says ABTC CEO Ryan Melsert. 

Melsert notes there is extremely large US demand for battery grade lithium products, especially in the hydroxide form the resource contains – which is well suited to the manufacturing of high energy density cathode materials.

ABTC conducted empirical trials to manufacture battery grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate from bulk samples collected from the TFLP resource.

The economic analysis presented in the report outlined a project with a lifespan of approximately 50 years.

The resource can be mined with a straightforward near-surface open pit mining method, with the land restored in phases after it has been mined.

The firm says the assessment makes TFLP one of the "premier" lithium resources in the US.

Last year ABTC received a $57mn grant from the Department of Energy (DoE) to construct, commission, and operate a first-of-kind commercial scale facility to manufacture battery-grade lithium hydroxide.

ABTC's technology will refine lithium from unconventional sedimentary resources. The vast majority of lithium products manufactured globally utilize conventional brines or hard rock ores as feedstock material.

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Less than 2pc of global lithium supply is sourced from within the US currently, within only one mine active in the country.

As part of its goal to have EVs make up half of all vehicle sales in the US by 2030, in 2022 the Biden Administration announced $3.1bn in funding to incentivise the development of domestic battery supply chains.

The administration has a specific goal to developing enough battery-grade lithium to supply 2mn EVs annually.

Oil and gas major ExxonMobil will begin producing lithium from a well in the US from 2027 as part of a new plan to become a leading producer of the metal.

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