ABTC builds base for battery independence
With technology, deposit, funding, and facilities to supply US Metal Tech News - March 13, 2023
Last updated 3/15/2023 at 9:39am
As more and more companies answer the call to supply the materials needed to fuel the clean energy transition, American Battery Technology Company has been doing its part to establish a strong foundation to provide electric vehicle manufacturers and other renewable technology companies with critical battery metals for decades to come.
Founded in 2011, ABTC (formerly known as American Battery Metals Corp.) began with a few mining claims out of Nevada. Spun out from a former Tesla employee seeking a means of providing lithium-ion batteries for the famed EVs, it turned out that this foresight proved astute.
Recognizing the severity of delivering domestic supplies of the lithium, cobalt, nickel, and manganese needed not just in EVs, but in solar panels, wind turbines, and battery energy storage systems, ABTC broadened its business to more than just primary battery metals manufacturing but also lithium-ion recycling.
With ample funding due to its promising recycling technology, a pre-commercial building currently under construction, an agreement for pre-purchase of its future product, and the most recent announcement of its decision to move into a ready-made facility also in Nevada, ABTC is proving its foresight was not just a one-off and is preparing to provide America with ABTC battery materials.
Having a first mover's advantage in one of the fastest growing battery electric states, on top of already having a facility being constructed, ABTC is in a unique position by holding onto mining claims that also contain raw lithium.
The Tonopah Flats lithium project encompasses one of the largest known inferred lithium claystone resource deposits within the United States.
Located in Big Smoky Valley near Tonopah, Nevada, the project includes 517 unpatented lode mining claims covering approximately 10,340 acres of land administrated by the Bureau of Land Management. While ABTC only began exploration in 2021, the company has quickly turned out an inferred resource estimate to shed some light on this highly prospective region.
According to the report, Tonopah Flats hosts 5.29 billion metric tons of inferred resource averaging 561 parts per million (15.8 million metric tons) of lithium carbonate.
In October 2022, ABTC received a $57 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to design, construct, commission, and operate a $115 million commercial-scale facility to demonstrate the company's novel process for manufacturing battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate from Nevada-based lithium-bearing sedimentary resources.
ABTC is also building its first pre-commercial battery recycling plant in Nevada, which will initially have the capacity to process 20,000 metric tons of feedstock per year with plans of scaling up to a full commercial plant capable of processing 100,000 metric tons per year in the future.
To speed up the process, the company recently announced plans to set up shop in a move-in-ready, commercial-scale battery recycling facility, also located in Nevada.
"We are excited to be able to capitalize on this opportunity to accelerate the first commercial-scale implementation of our integrated lithium-ion battery recycling technologies," said American Batter Technology Company CEO Ryan Melsert. "The purchase of this existing facility was significantly lower cost than constructing a new facility of similar design, and the fact that it is move-in ready with the necessary infrastructure equipment already installed will allow us to accelerate our start of commercial-scale operations."
For the last several years, ABTC has been validating and optimizing its battery recycling technologies for the low-cost and low environmental impact recovery of critical battery materials from defective and end-of-life batteries, and the refining of these battery materials to meet battery grade material specifications for reintroduction into the domestic supply chain.
With the recycling technology fleshed out, the newest roughly 137,000-square-foot facility had been lying vacant for some time and was already used as a recycling facility for lead-acid batteries.
While the company reported no plans to halt or alter its ongoing plant construction, ABTC understands that the materials are needed now and will be going forward with the necessary steps to begin another facility.
Funding and confidence
In 2019, ABTC detailed the operations of its integrated battery recycling system in a global competition hosted by BASF, a German chemical company, and was subsequently selected as the sole winner of the battery recycling portion of the Circularity Challenge.
In 2021, ABTC was then awarded a $2M battery recycling grant through the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC), which is comprised of DOE, General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis, for a commercial-scale project currently underway to demonstrate that recycled battery metal products from domestic U.S. resources can be produced at lower cost than, and at significantly improved social and environmental impact, than conventionally mined virgin minerals.
Combined with the $57 million grant, plus a second $10 million grant awarded by DOE under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to demonstrate and commercialize next-generation techniques for its lithium-ion battery recycling processes, it is evident that ABTC will be a major provider of critical battery materials.
Further cementing the company's financial security, ABTC has also entered into an agreement for a $20 million non-dilutive debt facility for the pre-purchase of its recycled battery metal products.
The term sheet agreement is with global marketing and supply chain platform TechMet-Mercuria SA, a joint venture incorporated in Switzerland between TechMet Ltd. and Mercuria, two giants in the energy materials sector.
"We are excited to be entering into this pre-purchase and marketing agreement with one of the premier global metals marketing firms in the battery metals industry," said Melsert. "As we ramp up operations at our first integrated lithium-ion battery recycling facility, the short-term sale of these intermediate products will be a key enabler to accelerating the implementation of the additional phases of our operations to manufacture commercial quantities of cathode grade battery metal products for domestic markets."
With a world-class lithium deposit in its backyard, a hot seat of prime real estate in future battery manufacturing, and funding from every aspect of the supply chain, American Battery Technology Company will likely become a name that sits among the likes of other titans of manufacturing industry and will provide for American demands for decades to come.
CORRECTION: This article has been corrected to state that American Battery Technology Company has a single purchase agreement for its future product.