ABTC's Tonopah Flats gets more DOE funds
Helps move company toward more advanced feasibility stages Metal Tech News – September 13, 2023
Last updated 9/18/2023 at 2:10pm
Building upon its foundation as a domestic supplier of critical battery materials, American Battery Technology Company has been awarded a second US$57 million from the U.S. Department of Energy for its future commercial-scale lithium hydroxide facility in Nevada.
This grant marks yet another major milestone toward establishing a domestic source of low-cost, low-environmental-impact lithium for America's clean energy transition at the Tonopah Flats Lithium project, a Nevada mine development that several world-class partners are keeping close eyes on.
While recent focus has been placed on ABTC's recycling capabilities, the company is in the unique position of also holding mining claims that 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.
"While having a lithium-bearing sedimentary claystone resource that is identified as one of the largest overall lithium deposits in the US is important, it is only beneficial if a technology can be commercialized that can access the constituent lithium and manufacture a battery grade lithium product that is economically competitive," American Battery Technology Company CEO Ryan Melsert penned in a recent letter to its shareholders. "We are proud to have developed an in-house set of technologies specifically designed for use with this unique central Nevada-based sedimentary claystone resource, and to have proven out these unit operations at the bench scale over the past two years."
Based on a recent SK-1300-compliant calculation, Tonopah Flats hosts 5.29 billion metric tons of inferred resource averaging 561 parts per million (15.8 million metric tons) of economically accessible lithium on a carbonate-equivalent basis.
"With the support of a grant from the US DOE, we have further scaled these technologies and designed a pilot-scale integrated system that can intake up to 5 metric tonnes per day of claystone material, process this material through each of our unit operations, and generate a battery-grade lithium hydroxide product," Melsert wrote. "The majority of the components for this pilot-scale system have already been delivered, and we are looking forward to commissioning this system and commencing operations over the coming months."
In October 2022, ABTC received its first US$57 million grant from DOE to design, construct, commission, and operate a US$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.
"With support from an additional US DOE grant, we are also undergoing the construction design of a commercial-scale refinery that employs these internally-developed processes to produce commercial quantities of battery-grade lithium hydroxide," the ABTC CEO added. "We have engaged the global EPC firm Black & Veatch and are proceeding through the design, engineering, procurement, construction, and commissioning operations. As the identified quantity and quality of our lithium resource continues to grow, and as the demand for domestically manufactured lithium hydroxide grows, the ultimate size of this commercial-scale refinery continues to grow as well."
To supplement this mining operation, ABTC has been building a pre-commercial battery recycling plant in Nevada as well, which will have an initial capacity of up to 20,000 metric tons of feedstock per year with full capabilities upwards of 100,000 metric tons per year.
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.
In the meantime, the announced funds will support the current exploration program to continue the evolution of this domestic resource toward upgrading from the current inferred category to the measured and indicated categories.
The company is also continuing to proceed through the permitting necessary to commercialize this critical metal.