The budding US lithium miner Energy Exploration Technologies has raised US$50 million in a Series B funding round. The round was led by. The two sides have also agreed to cooperate on other levels.
The car company does not disclose how high General Motors’ share of the 50-million-dollar round actually is. However, the US manufacturer emphasises that a strategic agreement has been signed with Energy Exploration Technologies (EnergyX for short) to develop the company’s own lithium extraction and refinery technology. EnergyX is developing a novel process for the extraction of lithium called direct lithium extraction or DLE.
The process is designed to extract lithium metal directly from brine and potentially to the quality required for electric car batteries, GM says. This corresponds to “more cost-efficient and sustainable lithium extraction to tap into a huge lithium supply chain inthat might otherwise be unprofitable”.
The future cooperation between the two American companies will cover three areas: First, a technology development programme is to be launched to support the commercialisation of EnergyX’s DLE and refining processes, which will help “complement or replace traditional evaporation pond methods”, according to the GM release.
Second, there is to be an agreement that will pave the way for GM to access lithium withdrawals – including material from North and South American mining companies contracted through EnergyX. And third, the two sides are seeking additional strategic financing for lithium production projects in North and South America using EnergyX technology for the benefit of GM’s supply chain.
“We will unlock lithium supply in the US, a pivotal move in expanding the EV industry,” emphasises Teague Egan, CEO of EnergyX. “There are many ways of gauging success, but few are more rewarding than the support of leaders like GM. We’re energized by GM’s investment and will keep a ‘Day 1’ attitude as we pursue our goal of making EnergyX the biggest lithium company in the world.”
Jeff Morrison, GM Vice President of Global Purchasing and Supply Chain, emphasises that they are committed to sourcing sustainable and competitive EV minerals to maintain GM’s leadership position among automakers. “EnergyX is developing a novel direct lithium extraction process that’s not only cost competitive but also will reduce energy, land and water usage as compared to the current extraction and processing process for brine-based lithium. We are excited to be partnered with EnergyX on their efforts.”
According to the GM release, EnergyX commissioned a pilot plant in the so-called Lithium Triangle in 2022, using EnergyX’s so-called LiTAS technology. This is said to lift lithium recovery rates to over 90% compared to the current industry standard. Following a successful five-month pilot programme that proved the efficacy of the LiTAS lithium refining process, EnergyX will expand these systems to more robust market demonstration plants in five regional test beds in North and South America, followed by full-scale commercialisation, it adds.
EnergyX plans to use the to commercialise its process, as well as for research and development into pure lithium metal anodes and its solid-state lithium metal battery (SoLiS) programme. In addition, the company, which was founded in 2018, is building an innovation and production facility inin the US state of for its growing operations and plans to expand its workforce from currently around 50 to then 100 employees.