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Australian Lithium Miner Soars After Successful Demo Batch

Rinehart-Backed Vulcan Energy Makes Breakthrough in Direct Lithium Extraction

by Victor Adetimilehin

Australian lithium developer Vulcan Energy Resources Ltd. is celebrating a major win this week, with its share price surging nearly 40%. This jump comes after the company announced a significant milestone: the successful production of a viable lithium chloride batch using direct-extraction technology (DLE).

Validation for a Promising Technology

Vulcan’s achievement is noteworthy because DLE is a relatively new and untested method for lithium production. Traditional techniques involve pumping lithium-rich brine into evaporation ponds, a slow and resource-intensive process that can also be harmful to the environment. DLE offers a faster and potentially more environmentally friendly alternative. It involves pumping the brine through a special membrane that separates the lithium from other elements.

Vulcan’s successful demo run at its plant in Landau, Germany, is a major validation of this innovative technology. The company, backed by Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart, has supply agreements with several European carmakers, including Stellantis, Renault, and Volkswagen. This successful batch production assures these carmakers that Vulcan can potentially deliver on its promises.

“We see this as a major step forward for the company,” said analysts from Cannacord Genuity Ltd. in an email note. “It validates Vulcan’s extensive work to date and our view that DLE has a role to play in the lithium supply chain.”

Securing Funding and Gearing Up for Production

Vulcan is aiming to begin commercial-scale production of lithium hydroxide in 2026. This initial phase will target an annual output of 24,000 tons, enough to supply batteries for approximately 500,000 electric vehicles. However, the company still needs to secure funding to move forward.

“Construction will take just over two years, and the clock starts ticking once financing is complete,” said Vulcan’s executive chairman, Francis Wedin. The company is currently in talks with potential strategic investors, including those in the oil and gas and automotive sectors, to secure the necessary equity.

Beyond the speed and efficiency benefits, Vulcan’s DLE process boasts an additional advantage – it utilizes geothermal energy to power its plant, resulting in lower carbon emissions compared to traditional methods. This focus on sustainability aligns well with the growing demand for ethically sourced and environmentally responsible lithium production.

The electric vehicle revolution is driving a surge in demand for lithium, a key component of EV batteries. However, concerns exist around the environmental impact of traditional lithium mining methods. Vulcan’s successful application of DLE offers 

Vulcan’s breakthrough is a significant step forward for the DLE industry. However, challenges remain. DLE is still a developing technology, and further research and development are needed to optimize efficiency and ensure long-term environmental sustainability. Collaboration between governments, industry players, and research institutions will be crucial in unlocking the full potential of DLE.

A Brighter Future for EVs and Battery Production

The successful demo batch is a significant vote of confidence for Vulcan Energy and the DLE industry. With continued progress, secured funding, and collaborative efforts to address any remaining environmental concerns, Vulcan is poised to become a major player in the race to meet the growing demand for lithium. This, in turn, will pave the way for a more sustainable and efficient electric vehicle battery supply chain, accelerating the clean energy transition.

Source: Mining.com


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