VanadiumCorp acquires key refining tech
Gains full rights to electrochemical vanadium recovery process Metal Tech News – Nov. 30, 2020
Last updated 12/8/2020 at 4:44pm
VanadiumCorp Resource Inc. has acquired full rights to a unique, low-carbon emitting means of extracting vanadium, another key to its goal of unlocking the potential of vanadium redox flow batteries as a sustainable renewable energy storage solution.
"We have achieved another critical step in our strategic plan to rapidly advance VanadiumCorp's sustainable assets," said VanadiumCorp Resource CEO Adriaan Bakker.
These assets are found along the entire vanadium redox flow supply chain – from a world-class deposit of Vanadium in Quebec, to the newly acquired Vanadium Electrochem Process Technology, and the XRG battery technology the company is developing through a German subsidiary.
By establishing this complete mines-to-batteries value chain that harnesses the reusable potential of vanadium to store renewable energy, VanadiumCorp is endeavoring to play a major role in establishing vanadium redox flow batteries as the go-to zero-emissions green electricity storage solution.
"With a substantial resource base in Canada and technology to unlock global supply, I believe VanadiumCorp may hold the key to our low-carbon future," said Bakker.
Buying, commercializing VEPT
Using less heat and more science to recover 95% of the vanadium, titanium, and iron from magnetite deposits rich in these metals, the Vanadium Electrochem Process Technology, or VEPT, is a crucial piece of VanadiumCorp's low-carbon future strategy.
Invented in 2017 by electrochemist Francois Cardarelli, VEPT is a more environmentally sound and efficient means of processing vanadium than the conventional methods of roasting and smelting, which requires the burning of two tons of carbon to produce one ton of vanadium and leaves the iron and titanium as a waste material that must be disposed of.
In addition to significantly reducing the carbon and environmental footprint of refining concentrates into battery-grade vanadium, VEPT is expected to lower the cost of producing this battery metal due to the added revenue from selling the iron and titanium-dioxide co-products.
Over the past four years, VanadiumCorp has been working with Cardarelli and his Electrochem Technologies & Materials Inc. to advance the VEPT process.
Through this collaboration, VanadiumCorp earned a 50% stake in the vanadium processing technology and had the right to acquire the remaining interest of the VEPT intellectual property portfolio, including all patent rights, by paying Electrochem C$350,000 in cash.
The two companies have now finalized this deal.
"I am pleased about the outcome of the provisioned buyout of VEPT to VanadiumCorp and Electrochem will continue to work with VanadiumCorp to speed up the commercialization of the technology especially in Quebec but also abroad," said Cardarelli. "This important milestone demonstrates the strength of our company, who owns a portfolio of 18 patented electrochemical and metallurgical processes granted and enforced in 16 countries. These green technologies address the reduction of carbon emission, the circular economy and the recycling of critical metals."
Electrochem retains 3% royalties on production from every plant using VEPT worldwide. VanadiumCorp has the option to buy this royalty for C$1 million for each 0.5% acquired, up to C$6 million for the entire royalty.
The Quebec-based mineral processing company will also remain the exclusive contractor for continued development of VEPT and will undertake the test work required by other companies wishing to license this vanadium processing technology from VanadiumCorp.
These royalties and contracting rights could be a boon for Electrochem as VanadiumCorp looks to license VEPT to companies around the globe.
"Retaining Electrochem as the exclusive provider of scientific services in the next phase of pilot testing and production will facilitate commercialization of VEPT and will open the door to new sources of vanadium globally and formalizes our development plans for our strategic mining assets," said Bakker.
VanadiumCorp has already signed a patent option agreement that would allow Ultra Power Systems PTY Ltd. to acquire an exclusive license for VEPT in Australia.
Privately owned and financed, Ultra Power Systems hopes to utilize VEPT at a vanadium electrolyte facility it plans to develop to process the abundant vanadium-bearing resources in Australia and produce vanadium batteries that can be leased to mines and remote communities, primarily in Canada and Australia.
"We are excited to commercialize VEPT exclusively in the mining friendly and vanadium-rich jurisdiction of Australia," said Ultra Power Systems Managing Director Brad Appleyard. "With strong channel partners, investors and government support we intend to establish the leading integrated solution for vanadium batteries worldwide."
VEPT lies at the center of VanadiumCorp's strategy along the entire vanadium redox flow batteries supply chain – from its Lac Doré vanadium deposit in Quebec, Canada, to the XRG vanadium battery technology being developed through a German subsidiary.
"The acquisition of these IP assets further bolsters our patent portfolio surrounding the green and efficient recovery of vanadium," the VanadiumCorp CEO added. "Combined with our recent Lac Doré resource statement and current negotiations with global companies, this acquisition reinforces our plan to commercialize the demonstrated low-cost and environmentally friendly advantage of VEPT to recover vanadium."
Vanadium battery supply chain
VEPT lies at the center of the mines-to-batteries value chain VanadiumCorp is endeavoring to establish.
Two promising vanadium projects in Quebec – Lac Doré and Iron T – lay at the frontend of this vanadium flow battery supply chain.
Situated about 17 miles (27 kilometers) southeast of Chibougamau, a mining town in central Quebec, Lac Doré is the most advanced battery metal mining project in VanadiumCorp's portfolio.
According to an October calculation, Lac Doré hosts 214.93 million metric tons of measured and indicated resources with the potential to produce 52.82 million metric tons of magnetite concentrate averaging 1.3% (1.49 billion pounds) vanadium pentoxide (V2O5), 62% (24.4 million metric tons) iron, and 8.7% (15.2 million metric tons) titanium dioxide (TiO2).
"We can state Lac Doré is one of the largest undeveloped deposits of vanadiferous magnetite in the world, with an excess of 1.4 billion pounds of vanadium pentoxide contained in magnetite concentrate," said Bakker.
Davis Tube metallurgical testing has shown the effectiveness of simple magnetic separation to create this magnetite concentrate from vanadiferous titanomagnetite mineralization mined from Lac Doré.
This deposit also boasts the advantage of being roughly 12 miles (19 kilometers) away from rail and industrial power, an advantageous location for establishing a vanadium mine with titanium and iron by-products.
VanadiumCorp plans to use VEPT to process Lac Doré concentrates and ultimately create a Quebec-based supply of renewable vanadium electrolyte for redox flow batteries and other high-purity applications that will benefit from green and cost-effective vanadium.
Some of this vanadium electrolytes are expected to supply XRG, a vanadium redux flow battery technology and brand of VanadiumCorp GmbH, a Germany-based subsidiary.
VanadiumCorp's XRG batteries are modular and can be built with capacities as low as 20-kilowatt-hour for residential electrical storage and up to several megawatt-hour for grid-scale applications.
XRG's vanadium battery system stores energy in liquid vanadium electrolyte that never degrades. Vanadium flow battery hardware can be recycled and the vanadium electrolyte can be reused indefinitely – key advantages over lead-acid, lithium-ion, and other battery systems that experience cross contamination due to the different anode and cathode materials.
The one advantage that lithium-ion batteries hold is the economies of scale.
VanadiumCorp believes the commercialization of VEPT as a low-cost and environmentally friendly means to recover vanadium is another key to unlocking the potential of vanadium flow batteries as a sustainable and competitive renewable energy storage solution.