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Friday, 7 October 2011

Western Lithium to develop lithium carbonate for multiple battery applications

Oct 07, 2011

 Western Lithium USA Corporation  is pleased to announce that it has signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory as a step toward the commercialization of lithium carbonate from the Company’s Kings Valley Lithium Project located in Humboldt County, Nevada, USA.

Under the agreement, Argonne will analyze and develop the Company’s lithium carbonate products for battery applications. Argonne is a global leader in advanced battery and energy storage research and development and has developed 150 advanced battery technologies in the last decade. In the last three years, the research laboratory has executed several licensing deals for a lithium-ion battery technology with General Motors, BASF, Envia, LG Chem and Toda America.

"In 2010 and 2011, Western Lithium produced high quality lithium carbonate from its pilot studies in the United States and Germany and achieved lithium carbonate purity in the range of 99.5 to 99.9 percent," said Jay Chmelauskas, Western Lithium president. "We believe that the industry will continue to require improved product specifications for current and future lithium-ion battery applications. Our work with Argonne is intended to develop lithium specifications suitable to engage potential customers for lithium carbonate offtake agreements and ultimately to advance the Kings Valley project into production."

"Purity is critical for battery-grade materials such as lithium carbonate, which is the precursor material in lithium battery technologies," said Argonne scientist Ilias Belharouak, who will lead a team of researchers on the Western Lithium project. "Our team will work with Western Lithium to develop a battery specification for lithium carbonate produced from the Company’s Kings Valley clay. This research will enhance the pilot study work that has already been completed."

As part of the work agreement, conventional electrode materials will be synthesized with lithium carbonate extracted from Western Lithium’s lithium clay deposits at Kings Valley and electrochemically tested against current industry baseline specifications. Additionally, new composites based on improved materials may be tested as part of the work agreement to investigate new chemistries and formulations for enhanced performance. Argonne will work with Western Lithium to optimize and improve lithium carbonate production and quality to target areas of potential competitive advantage.

Western Lithium is developing the Kings Valley, Nevada lithium deposit into potentially one of the world’s largest strategic, scalable and reliable sources of high quality lithium carbonate. The Company is positioning itself as a major United States-based lithium carbonate supplier to support the rising global demand for lithium, expected from the increased use of hybrid and electric vehicles. Western Lithium is in the final stages of completing a pre-feasibility study for the project to demonstrate capital and operating cost requirements to extract and process lithium from its Nevada clays. As announced previously, the Company expects improvements to its project economics since it released its preliminary assessment economic study in January 2010 (see press release dated January 12, 2010), based on additional drilling supporting higher grade feedstock for processing and improved energy economics. The new study is expected to show two phases of development starting at a nominal 13,000 tons per year of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) and scaling after several years to approximately double the production rate to nominally 26,000 tons per year LCE. The results of the pre-feasibility study are expected to be released in October 2011.

Source: Argonne National Laboratory

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