International Battery Metals’ mobile plant shows high lithium recovery from brine

International Battery Metals (CSE: IBAT; OTC: IBATF), which is looking to commercialize a first-of-its-kind modular, mobile lithium extraction plant, has made a […]
IBAT’s commercial-scale lithium extraction plant. Credit: International Battery Metals

International Battery Metals (CSE: IBAT; OTC: IBATF), which is looking to commercialize a first-of-its-kind modular, mobile lithium extraction plant, has made a further step towards its sustainable lithium extraction goals. An independent review by SLR International, a global leader in environmental and engineering services, has verified that the company's patented technology extracts more than 65% of available lithium from brine, effectively strips out impurities, and recycles and reuses more than 94% of water.

"The results of this independent review are a strong validation of our ground-breaking technology," said Dr. John Burba, CEO of IBAT. "IBAT's technology is faster and more economical because it can be built, deployed and brought on-line in a fraction of the time, and at a fraction of the cost of traditional lithium mining models, and further, we can extract more lithium from a given resource with less environmental impact than any other available technology."

The modular direct lithium extraction (MDLE) plant located in Lake Charles, Louisiana, has been flow-testing lithium-bearing brine since early May 2022, and extracting lithium chloride (LiCl) since mid-May, making IBAT the first company globally to successfully operate a commercial-scale mobile lithium extraction plant.

The third-party independent review also confirmed the robust modular design of the plant and ease of transportation and relocation, which could allow access and a means to capitalize on a more diverse range of lithium-bearing brine resources globally, including smaller sites in varied terrain – such as those in the U.S. – that are currently considered uneconomical due to the current, dominant extraction technologies.

As configured, the plant is designed to produce 5,738 tonnes of LiCl per year, or 5,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate-equivalent per year from a brine with a lithium concentration of 1,800 parts per million. SLR's operational review consisted of observation of continuous processing of a brine, containing 300 ppm of lithium, through the plant and monitoring the solution chemistry by sampling at regular intervals to determine the performance of the process equipment and the absorption media through three loading and elution cycles.

The brine was sourced in the U.S. and delivered in significant volume to the plant via tanker truck. In the first phase of extraction from the raw brine, SLR found that "lithium extraction for the three cycles ranged from 72.6% Li to 87.5% Li with an average extraction of 81% Li." In the second phase, which recovers the lithium from the absorbent material to develop commercial-grade lithium chloride and lithium carbonate, recovery "ranged from 58.3% Li to 89.0% Li with an average of 68.8% Li."

This is significantly higher than the industry-wide average of 50% for evaporative lithium processing, based on data from the National Renewable Energy Agency (NREL), a laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy.

According to the SLR report, an important part of IBAT's MDLE process is the selectivity of the absorbent, which strips out the lithium but leaves other naturally occurring elements in the brine, which allows the brine to be reintroduced into the environment, vastly reducing the overall environmental impact.

Furthermore, with its highly efficient capture of impurities and reinjection of brine back into the original resource, coupled with industry-leading water recycling, IBAT's sustainable environmental performance enables the creation of a clean lithium extraction industry in North America and around the world, SLR concluded.

"From the beginning, our goal has been to create a technology that is environmentally friendlier than any technology currently in operation, while demonstrating consistently superior lithium recovery, scalability and mobility, and we believed we could do it all at a lower cost," added Burba. "We are thrilled that a team as experienced, technically skilled and globally-renowned as SLR were able to validate the technology on our first operational and commercially available plant."

More details on IBAT's advanced lithium extraction technology can be found at www.ibatterymetals.com.

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