Lake Resources NL’s (ASX:LKE) (OTCMKTS:LLKKF) (FRA:LK1) high purity 'clean' lithium carbonate produced from Kachi brines has been sent to Novonix Ltd’s (ASX:NVX) (OTCQX:NVNXF) Novonix Battery Technology Solutions in Nova Scotia, Canada, to produce NMC622-based lithium-ion battery test cells.
Novonix is preparing to begin testing Lake Resources’ lithium carbonate with the preliminary cathode precursor lithiation followed by full pilot-scale evaluation.
The program will be undertaken over four months with first results anticipated in February.
First samples of Lake’s high purity 99.97% lithium carbonate, produced from brines from Lake's Kachi project in Argentina, has been dispatched by Hazen Research Inc.
Hazen continues to produce high purity 5-6 kilogram carbonate samples using a simple flowsheet from lithium chloride produced at the Lilac Solutions pilot plant module from Kachi brines.
Lake Resources managing director Steve Promnitz said: “The commencement of the Novonix program is an important milestone for Lake and the timeframe for delivery of first results is on track.
“We are confident that Novonix’s work will clearly demonstrate that lithium carbonate produced from Kachi brines will have the necessary specifications that Tier-1 battery makers require.
“As well, demand for such a sustainably produced and responsibly sourced product is growing in North America and Europe as electric vehicle makers look to bolster their ESG credentials and the use of gasoline engine vehicles are phased out.
“Kachi has all the hallmarks to deliver into this new demand at the necessary scale.”
Shares have been as much as 12% higher to A$0.067.
Testing of lithium carbonate
Novonix Ltd provides high precision battery testing equipment to Tier-1 battery makers, including Panasonic, CATL, Samsung, SK Innovation, LG Chem, Bosch, Honda and Dyson.
Using Novonix’s pilot cell line, Lake’s high purity, responsibly-sourced lithium carbonate samples will be used together with commercial battery cathode precursor materials to form a NMC622 cathode that will then be processed into NMC622 lithium-ion batteries for testing.
This will enable Lake and its potential partners and customers to make direct and relevant comparisons of Lake’s lithium product’s performance in familiar battery chemistries.
Novonix anticipates the testing process to take a minimum of four months, with the first results expected about two months after the cathode material is produced.
Lake Resources will update the market once the results are available.
Potential for premium prices
Hazen will continue to produce lithium carbonate, targeting 5-6 kilograms of samples in this round derived from the first 20,000 litres of Kachi brines.
A further 20,000 litres of brine is stored with Lilac, whilst additional brines are being prepared for transport from site to produce more samples to meet increased demand, given recent successful results.
High purity lithium carbonate results have been obtained via a simple flowsheet without any anticipated changes to the operating costs previously forecast in Kachi’s pre-feasibility study.
Low impurities are a key factor in determining battery quality and the pricing and acceptance of lithium products.
Lake Resources’ high purity carbonate offers the potential for premium prices.