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Infinity targets Europe's growing Li demand

14 Mar 2018 10:15 GMT
Infinity targets Europe's growing Li demand

Perth, 14 March (Argus) — Recently-renamed Australian lithium developer Infinity Lithium aims to become one of Europe's major lithium carbonate suppliers for the growing electric vehicle market.

The Perth-based company was called Plymouth Minerals until two weeks ago.

It is progressing a feasibility study on the San Jose project in Spain, estimated to be third largest lithium mineral resource in Europe. The project contains 1.6mnt t of lithium carbonate equivalent. Other early stage major lithium projects in Europe are in Czech Republic, Portugal and Austria.

"We are aiming to produce around 15,000 t/yr of lithium carbonate for the European market, providing an alternative to traditional output coming from China and South America," Infinity Lithium director Humphrey Hale said.

Gigafactories being established by European vehicle manufacturers and other industrial groups are expected to need 100,000 t/yr of lithium carbonate output to supply six projects, he said. These projects will annually produce around 100GWh of stored energy. It takes 25,000t of lithium carbonate equivalent to produce 32GWh.

There is currently no production of lithium carbonate in Europe.

Infinity is earning up to 75pc in the San Jose project from Spanish group Sacyr subsidiary Valoriza Mineria through the completion of a feasibility study. This is scheduled for completion by the fourth quarter of this year.

The project's mineral resource is 112mn t, grading 0.6pc lithium oxide and 0.02pc tin. Mining is forecast to take place over 16 years with production lasting 24 years due to the use of stockpiles, the company said.

The company seeks to provide geographic diversification for European electric vehicle manufacturers which need to secure supply chains. Argentina and Chile currently dominate lithium brine output, while Western Australia dominates hard rock lithium output. China dominates lithium carbonate production, with some from South America.

Infinity has a technology alliance with Chinese lithium carbonate producer Shandong Ruifi, which has a history of beneficiating lithium concentrate from mica-based feedstock.

Electric vehicles are expected to account for more than 70pc of lithium carbonate equivalent demand by 2025 compared to 23pc in 2017. European vehicle manufacturers needing to develop and secure lithium-ion battery supply chains for future electric vehicle production include VW, BMW, Renault, Porsche, Audi, Mercedes and Volvo.