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GM leads $50m funding round in EnergyX to unlock US lithium supply

12th April 2023

By: Mariaan Webb

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

     

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Automotive giant General Motors (GM) is leading a $50-million funding round in US company EnergyX as it steps up investments to unlock US-based lithium supply to scale up its electric vehicle (EV) production.

GM has entered into a strategic agreement to develop EnergyX’s lithium extraction and refinery technology, which can make lithium metal directly from brine and potentially in anode-ready form for EV batteries.

GM also entered into an agreement with EnergyX to access lithium offtakes for its exclusive use in EV production, including material sourced from North and South American mining companies contracted by EnergyX.

EnergyX states that its direct lithium extraction (DLE) technology could unlock, complement or replace traditional methods of evaporation ponds.

"The EnergyX team of scientists and engineers have worked relentlessly for five years developing cutting-edge DLE technology to solve the immense bottlenecks that have limited global lithium production and supply chain," said EnergyX CEO Teague Egan. "This single bottleneck (a massive lithium shortage) is the biggest challenge to scaling EV production. We will unlock lithium supply in the US, a pivotal move in expanding the EV industry.”

In 2022, EnergyX designed, built and commissioned an in-field pilot plant in the Lithium Triangle, which encompasses over 65% of the known global lithium reserves. The company's LiTAS technology increases lithium recovery rates to over 90% from the current industry standard of 30% to 40% using ponds and hit 94% during their field trials. After a successful five-month pilot programme proving the efficacy of the LiTAS lithium refinery process, EnergyX will scale those systems to more robust market demonstration plants located at five regional test beds in North and South America, followed by full-scale commercialisation.

Egan said that there were many ways of gauging success, but few were more rewarding than the support of leaders like GM. “We're energised 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."

GM VP of global purchasing and supply chain Jeff Morrison said that the automotive giant was committed to securing EV critical minerals.

“The investment in EnergyX is a further proof point of GM's leadership position. 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."

GM is investing in every stage of the battery supply chain in North America, from raw materials, to processing, to cell components and full battery cell production. Earlier this year, GM announced a $650-million investment in Lithium Americas to help it develop Nevada's Thacker Pass lithium mining project.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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