Lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide are two important lithium compounds used in a variety of industrial applications, especially lithium batteries.
Batteries have garnered worldwide interest in the past few years alongside the rise of electric vehicles. While there are different types of lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide, battery-grade lithium compounds are used to make cathode material for lithium-ion batteries. Much of the demand for lithium compounds in batteries is driven by the adoption of electric vehicles and other energy storage applications. Lithium is very light weight and an excellent conductor of electricity making it very attractive for mobile energy storage applications.
Lithium never exists on its own in nature. It is primarily derived from two main sources, hard rock and brines. Vision Lithium’s Sirmac project is a hard rock source of lithium which is found in spodumene-bearing pegmatites, similar to those currently being mined in Australia and under development in Canada. About 50% of the world’s lithium compound production comes from hard rock sources with the balance coming from brine sources, those being primarily located in South America. Both sources can produce battery grade lithium compounds, but the extraction and purification process is very different. Vision Lithium will be using known methods of lithium exploration and extraction to make lithium compounds for the battery market.
Battery grade lithium commands a premium and in 2018 battery grade lithium carbonate sells for between US$12,000 and US$14,000 a tonne and lithium hydroxide for between US$16,000 and US$18,000 a tonne. At these prices many lithium projects are economically viable. Today Vision Lithium is focused on developing its Sirmac lithium project.