by Ian Jenkins, via The Daily Sheeple:
A new technology is here that has the potential to reshape lithium production like fracking reshaped oil.
The global battery market is set to hit $120 billion in less than two years, and there’s a massive investor opportunity here in lithium—but this isn’t a mining play, it’s a tech play all the way.
As lithium continues to enjoy status as the hottest metal on the market, and as producers race to the finish line to bring new supply online, one little-known company just might hold technology that will give it a big edge.
In the swarm of new entrants on the lithium playing field, International Battery Metals (CSE:IBAT; OTC: RHHNF) stands out—front and center—because it’s sitting on a proprietary advanced technology that could push lithium into the production stage rapidly. It has signed an LOI with North American Lithium (NAL) to acquire all its lithium extraction process intellectual property and be restructured with NAL becoming an integral part of the company.
Where traditional solar evaporation technology takes up to 24 months to extract lithium from the brine, IBAT incoming CEO Burba says he can do it in 24 hours. That would put IBAT on the front line of new lithium coming online to meet the battery demand. And that demand is supplying our energy transition for everything from mainstreamed electric vehicles (EVs) to massive energy storage solutions and consumer electronics market that grows leaps and bounds.
The lithium game isn’t about exploration, it’s about innovation—and IBAT’s proprietary technology to be acquired from NAL was invented by the same game-changing inventor that came up with a similar tech for FMC Corp. (NYSE:FMC), one of the world’s four top lithium producers.
Lithium is currently produced through a grueling 24-month solar evaporation process that entails slowly extracting all other elements from the brine until only lithium remains.
IBAT’s technology is designed to remove evaporation ponds from the equation. As inventor-CEO John Burba puts it: “Our tech has such a high specificity for lithium that it can directly take the lithium out.”
With its eye on the lithium prize, IBAT is going for fast production and commercial scalability, at a time when lithium prices per metric ton are fantastic:
Disruptive technology changes everything, and if the deal with NAL completes and IBAT’s tech breaks through successfully, it could potentially do for lithium what fracking did to unlock shale for the U.S. oil and gas industry.
#1 Big Lithium Doesn’t Hibernate in Evaporating Ponds
The technology IBAT has an LOI to acquire, and on acquisition is considering for licensing to third party lithium producers could be a significant key to unlocking $84 billion in lithium brine resources—by making it faster and cheaper to produce.
Production capacity is now at a critical juncture. It takes a minimum of 4 years for an average Lithium brine mine to come online–and another 3-4 years to reach full capacity.
The ambitious targets for EV deployment and energy storage applications require massive Lithium mining capacity to be built much sooner than current technologies allow.
That’s the chief reason why companies are aggressively pursuing new resources such as oil field brines, jadarite and hectorite clay. Lithium brine deposits are estimated to contain 66 percent of the world’s 14 million metric tonnes (MT) of Lithium. That’s Lithium worth $84 billion at current prices.
Unfortunately, recovery of Lithium from brine deposits is a painfully slow process. Traditional solar evaporation technology is an extremely time-intensive process, with a lengthy production cycle that can exceed 18 months.
Oilfield brines solve some of these problems due to their high Lithium concentrations. But, there’s a kicker here as well– oil field brines contain very high concentrations of dissolved ions (>100,000 mg/L), making commercial recovery of Lithium exceedingly expensive.
The technology IBAT is acquiring from NAL is based on a process that has been extracting lithium continuously in Argentina for almost 20 years.
Instead of going the traditional route of trying to isolate Lithium by removing all of those complex ions, the IBAT tech removes the Lithium directly.
According to IBAT CEO John Burba, the mastermind of this technology, the process takes the lithium out on a continuous basis. As the brine goes by, it collects lithium and lets the other impurities continue on and go straight back into the ground. The end-product is a diluted stream of lithium chloride and water that comes out as the brine goes by. That original solution has few impurities which are easily removed through an evaporation process.
The whole extraction process takes–24 hours, period—so it would mean the end of 18-24-month residencies.
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