High Purity 99.97% Battery Quality Lithium Carbonate Produced from Kachi Brines

The tests at Hazen establish that very high purity 99.97% lithium carbonate with low impurities can be produced from Kachi brines. 

  • High purity 99.97% lithium carbonate produced by Hazen Research Inc from lithium chloride produced at the Lilac Solutions pilot plant module from Lake's Kachi brines.
  • Samples have very low impurities; Lake expects this product to be attractive for the battery market.
  • Lake Resources is confident of replicating these results at full production
  • Sample production by Hazen to continue with samples expected to be sent to Novonix and supply chain customers in Asia and Europe for battery tests, anticipated this quarter.

Clean lithium developer Lake Resources NL (ASX:LKE; OTC:LLKKF) is pleased to announce the high purity results from tests carried out at Hazen Research Inc (Hazen), a world renowned independent process laboratory.

Lithium Carbonate Results

Lake' technology partner, Lilac Solutions Inc (Lilac) has already demonstrated the production of high purity lithium chloride eluate using its proprietary ion-exchange direct lithium extraction method (DLE) at pilot plant module scale in California (refer ASX announcement 3 July 2020). Samples of this lithium chloride were further processed into lithium carbonate by Hazen in Colorado, USA. Hazen conducted a series of tests aimed at optimizing lithium carbonate quality while maintaining a simple flowsheet. Conventional treatment methods, including evaporation, treatment with sodium hydroxide and soda ash, ion exchange, and precipitation, were used (see Appendix 1). This process optimization was a critical step prior to production of larger volumes of high purity lithium carbonate samples.

The tests at Hazen establish that very high purity 99.97% lithium carbonate with low impurities can be produced from Kachi brines.

To ensure accuracy, a number of analytical techniques were employed to verify the lithium carbonate grade and the low impurities levels including inductively coupled plasma spectrometry and titration, both of which are accepted assaying techniques. Sample preparation and analytical methods are included in Appendix 1.

Very Low Impurities

Samples produced by Hazen show a 70% reduction in the overall level of impurities compared to Lake's earlier lithium carbonate production (99.9% lithium carbonate, refer ASX announcement 9 January 2020) and a significant 94% reduction in impurities compared with 99.5% lithium carbonate, widely accepted as “battery grade" in the current market. Notably, the results include very low metal and cation impurities including iron (Fe) and boron (B).

Lake expects this product to be highly attractive for the lithium-ion battery market where low impurities is a key factor in determining battery quality.

Table 1: Analytical results of lithium carbonate produced by Hazen Research Inc from lithium chloride produced from the Lilac's pilot module using the direct extraction ion exchange process which processed Kachi Lithium Brine Project brines. (* being reanalyzed)

Figure 1: Hazen Research – Neutralisation and precipitation of Lake's lithium product at its lab in Colorado, USA, with the production of Lake's lithium carbonate product.

Premium Pricing Potential

Pricing in the lithium carbonate market is largely determined by lithium carbonate grade and the level and type of impurities. The results achieved by Lilac and Hazen with Kachi brine suggest the potential to achieve substantially higher prices than previously envisaged. The Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS) (refer ASX announcement 30 April 2020) was based on achieving 99.9% lithium carbonate and a fixed selling price of US$11,000/t.

Next steps

Hazen will continue to produce lithium carbonate samples over the coming weeks, targeting 5kg to 6kg in this round. Samples will be sent to Novonix Limited (ASX:NVX), to be tested together with commercial battery cathode precursor materials in NMC622 batteries (refer ASX announcement 27 August 2020). Novonix is currently developing “million mile" battery technologies with revolutionary anode and cathode materials. Samples will also be sent to other potential off-take partners in Asia and Europe.

Scale-up from Pilot Plant Module to Production Scale

Lilac's pilot plant module treatment of Kachi brine to produce lithium chloride solution was conducted at roughly 1,000x the earlier laboratory bench-scale tests. The scale-up from the pilot module to full production scale modules is expected to be a relatively small, 3-5 times, depending on the final module design. The PFS was based on utilizing a series of modules to produce 25,500 tonnes per annum lithium carbonate equivalent. These successful pilot module tests from brine to final product, provide the confidence to replicate the results at planned production scale. Further, the use of direct lithium extraction as designed by Lilac, allows for consistent product quality and for ready production scalability.

Definitive Feasibility Study

The results of Hazen's process optimization, forthcoming battery tests, updated price expectations, and decisions on final plant module capacity, will be incorporated into the forthcoming Definitive Feasibility Study.

Lake's ambition is to sustainably produce the cleanest quality lithium carbonate at scale for use in the fast-growing battery market.

Lake's Managing Director, Steve Promnitz said: “These are excellent results. We are very pleased not only with the very high purity lithium carbonate grades, but also with the very low impurities. This is a function of the purity of the raw brine at our Kachi project, combined with the excellent work done by Lilac Solutions over the past two years, and by Hazen Research. Lake has a clean process, based on standard chemical processing techniques, which is readily scalable. The environmental footprint is small. Based on the results reported today, we believe Lake is well placed to deliver among the highest quality, sustainable, clean lithium carbonate products to the EV and energy storage market".

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Australia took a stand against Facebook and Google earlier this year, and the move could have long-term implications for tech investors.

It was a ban that sent Australians wild and had the whole world watching.

Back in February, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) stopped users in Australia from posting news in a week-long blackout, reacting to proposed legislation that would have forced the social media behemoth to pay publishers for content.

What prompted Facebook to "friend" Australia again, and what are the potential long-term implications of the squabble? Read on to learn what tech-focused investors in Australia should know about the situation.


Australia squares off against Facebook

On February 25 of this year, Australia's federal government passed the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code. It was developed after extensive analysis by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and is aimed at ensuring that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for their content.

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Unsurprisingly, Facebook and Google didn't react well to the code, which was first introduced in 2020.

Google didn't make any moves after it passed, but Facebook quickly made it impossible for Australian users to share news content, and pages for both local and international news organisations went blank — a major concern given the COVID-19 and wildfire concerns that were circulating at the time.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was scathing about Facebook's decision — which he ironically shared in a Facebook post — declaring the tech giant's actions "as arrogant as they were disappointing." He added, "These actions will only confirm the concerns that an increasing number of countries are expressing about the behaviour of BigTech companies who think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them."

Despite strong feelings from both Australia and Facebook, the dispute was resolved fairly quickly, with the country agreeing to make four amendments to the legislation and Facebook restoring Australian's access to news.

Implications for Big Tech and news organisations

Both Australia and Facebook have claimed victory in the dispute, with a Facebook representative saying the company will be able to decide if news appears on the platform — meaning it won't automatically have to negotiate with any news businesses. Changes were also made to the arbitration process.

Tech experts have pointed out that larger news companies may ultimately benefit from the changes, but smaller ones could be pushed to the side. Major publishers that have struck agreements with tech giants, such as News Corp, Nine Entertainment (ASX:NEC,OTC Pink:NNMTF), Seven West Media (ASX:SWM) and Guardian Australia, may be able to increase their market share while smaller independent players lose out.

A business that is in full support of the laws is Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). During the conflict, President Brad Smith came out loudly in favour of Australia's law, and advised that his company is willing to step up with search engine Bing should Google and/or Facebook pull out of the Australian market.

"In Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pushed forward with legislation two years in the making to redress the competitive imbalance between the tech sector and an independent press. The ideas are straightforward. Dominant tech properties like Facebook and Google will need to invest in transparency, including by explaining how they display news content," he said in a blog post.

"The United States should not object to a creative Australian proposal that strengthens democracy by requiring tech companies to support a free press. It should copy it instead."

Global reach and tech investor impact

Six months down the road from Australia's landmark legislation, it's tough to say what the long-term impact may be.

That said, market watchers do believe the country is part of a new precedent of forcing Big Tech into paying for journalism — something giants Facebook and Google are not used to.

Countries looking to pursue similar legislation include Canada, where Facebook agreed in May to pay 14 publishers to link to their articles on its COVID-19 and climate science pages, as well as other unspecified use cases. Canada is pursuing other avenues too. Meanwhile, in France, Google said it will pay publishers for news content after the country took up new EU copyright laws that make digital platforms liable for infringements.

For investors, the takeaway is perhaps that while companies like Facebook and Google may seem too big too fail, they too can fall subject to new regulations that can change how they do business. As nations around the world look to take back control from these mega companies, it's important to be aware of possible effects on their bottom lines.

Don't forget to follow @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Ronelle Richards, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Queensland is the 16th most attractive jurisdiction in the world, sneaking in above BC and the Yukon in Canada, and just behind New Mexico in the US.

Queensland is one of the top three Australian jurisdictions for copper.

While it's well behind South Australia, a behemoth in the country for resources and production, Queensland hosts some 12 percent of all known Australian copper deposits, level with its southern neighbour New South Wales.

A premier mining jurisdiction globally, Queensland is ranked third out of all Australian jurisdictions for mining investment attractiveness, according to the Fraser Institute. Globally, it's ranked as the 16th most attractive jurisdiction, sneaking in above BC and the Yukon in Canada, and just behind New Mexico in the US.


The state is renowned for its mining prowess in Australia, and is known as one of the resource states, with a large chunk of its economic heft coming from the mining industry and its operations across the vast state.

Overall, mining accounts for 11.7 percent of Queensland's economy, with coal and liquefied natural gas being the primary focus of output. Together, coal, gas and mineral exports account for over 80 percent of Queensland's exports, according to the state government.

Having said that, copper plays a large role, and Queensland is home to the second biggest producer of copper in Australia in the form of Glencore's (LSE:GLEN,OTC Pink:GLCNF) Mount Isa mining complex in the northwest of the state. There, Glencore owns and operates the Enterprise and X41 mines.

Aside from Mount Isa, Glencore owns the nearby Ernest Henry copper mine. Combined, Glencore's Queensland operations produced 138,800 tonnes of copper in 2020 — accounting for a little over 10 percent of the company's global copper production. Glencore isn't listed on the ASX, but can be found on the LSE.

Besides the Mount Isa complex itself, there's also a handful of other operational mines in the northwestern portion of the state, although most of them are privately owned, such as the Capricorn copper project, which is a joint venture between EMR Capital and Lighthouse Minerals; it secured itself "prescribed project" status in 2017.

Other privately owned projects include Round Oak's Barbara project (in care and maintenance), Chinese-backed CuDECO's Rockland copper project (mothballed, CuDECO in liquidation) and Chinova's Osborne mine — which was originally set up by Ivanhoe Mines (TSX:IVN,OTCQX:IVPAF). There's also the Balcooma mine, which Royal Gold (NASDAQ:RGLD) has copper royalties on, and the privately owned Mount Cuthbert mine.

Many of the mentioned projects ran into trouble in 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic limiting company operations.

All in all, Queensland has 13 operational copper mines, but as can be seen many are in private hands, making investment opportunities somewhat slim. Aside from previously mentioned Glencore operations, there's Red River Resources (ASX:RVR,OTC Pink:RRRDF), which owns the Thalanga operations near Charters Towers. Red River acquired Thalanga in 2014, and has been working to develop the legacy site back into a viable investment.

From the beginning of production in 2017, the operations have a lifespan of some 10 years, according to Red River, with further development and exploration options on the table. In its most recent quarterly report, Thalanga reported output of 3,086 tonnes of copper concentrate.

The remainder of the options on the table for investors are exploration focused, such as Copper Mountain Mining (ASX:C6C,OTC Pink:CPPMF) with interests in the Eva copper project, which is — unsurprisingly — in the northwest of the state, near the town of Cloncurry. Eva is in the development phase, with a feasibility study completed in early 2020 envisaging a 15 year mine life with an annual expected output of 106 million pounds of copper equivalent.

There's also Global Energy Metals (TSXV:GEMC,OTCQB:GBLEF), which like Glencore isn't on the ASX, but has interests in the Millenium cobalt-copper-gold project and others near Mount Isa — all in the exploration stage.

Aside from that, Strategic Energy Resources (ASX:SER) acquired exploration licences from Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM,OTC Pink:NCMGF) in May 2021 for licences around Mount Isa, and Zenith Minerals (ASX:ZNC) is exploring the Develin Creek copper-zinc project. Zenith recently divested from another copper project, Flannagans, in June 2021 by selling its interests to a private company for $450,000.

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Scott Tibballs, currently hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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