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Ford and LG Energy Suppliers Use Lithium Extraction Technology to Obtain Minerals

Compass Mineral International, a leading supplier of essential minerals such as salt and potassium sulfate (used in plant fertilizers), has been shifting its focus to the “new gold rush” of lithium, reports Electrek. The miner, which has signed lithium supply agreements with electric vehicle leaders such as Ford and LG Energy, is redoubling its efforts to obtain minerals with minimal environmental impact by using new extraction technologies.

As the largest salt producer in North America and the United Kingdom, Compass Mineral plays an important role in a number of industries. However, seeing that the automotive industry is transitioning to electric vehicles, Compass Mineral realizes that the demand for key battery minerals, such as lithium, will only continue to rise.

The company has been in business for 175 years and has annual revenues of $1.2 billion, however, Compass Mineral’s goal is to reduce its reliance on weather-dependent minerals and focus on markets with high growth potential, such as the electric vehicle industry.

In addition, demand for electric vehicles is expected to be higher since the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act on August 16, 2022, with tax credits of up to $7,500 for new purchases and $4,000 for used electric vehicles.

However, for an electric car to qualify, 40 percent of its battery minerals must come from the U.S. or its free trade partners, rising to 80 percent after 2026.

This provision provides a significant opportunity for mineral suppliers like Compass Mineral to fill the growing supply gap. That said, demand for battery-grade lithium in North America is expected to grow 700 percent over the next three years and more than 1,000 percent by 2030.

New government incentives and skyrocketing prices are making lithium mining even more attractive. For this reason, Compass Mineral is advancing its lithium project in Ogden, Utah (near the Great Salt Lake) on a 177,000-acre lease.

Compass Mineral announced another major milestone in the development of the project. The company said it will use EnergySource Minerals’ direct lithium extraction (DLE) technology to extract the minerals with minimal environmental impact. Compass will use the extracted minerals to fulfill supply agreements with electric vehicle leaders, including Ford and LG Energy.

After three years of “extensive testing,” Compass Minerals selected EnergyMinerals’ DTC technology because of its superior absorption capabilities and minimal environmental impact.

Chris YanDELL, Lithium Director at Compass Mineral, said.

"Our selection of ESM was the result of a thorough competitive process and we are pleased to be moving forward with their team as a trusted supplier for our lithium development. Our evaluation over the years has focused on matching the right technology to our specific lithium brine resource - and we believe we have done just that with this supplier selection."

Compass Mineral said the project has the potential for about 2.4 million tons of lithium carbonate equivalent and is fully funded for the next two years. The company also reiterated that it remains on track to become a low-cost producer of battery-grade lithium by 2025.

Most importantly, Compass Mineral is expected to produce significantly less greenhouse gas emissions due to its use of a solar evaporation process. Rick Axthelm, the company’s chief sustainability officer, said.

"Minimizing the environmental impact of our lithium extraction and conversion program has been a key priority for this project since we began evaluating our development options. As we advance toward commercial production, we will continue to prioritize sustainable operations."

Electrek’s view

As more resources (from government and private industry) are being used to promote a sustainable future, better technologies and other resources are being developed to reduce the impact of electric vehicles.

Sustainable extraction technologies are still in the early stages. Demand for electric vehicles will only continue to accelerate for the foreseeable future, and lithium will be in high demand.

In particular, North America’s new climate initiative aims to make sustainable options available to everyone and bring manufacturing back to U.S. soil. To achieve this goal, sustainable extraction methods will be critical.

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Threza Gabriel
Threza Gabrielhttps://www.techgoing.com
TechGoing is a global tech media to brings you the latest technology stories, including smartphones, electric vehicles, smart home devices, gaming, wearable gadgets, and all tech trending.
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