ARKANSAS, Oct 18 (Future Headlines)- As the world embarks on a path towards a green energy future, the demand for lithium, a critical component of batteries that power electric vehicles and renewable energy storage, has skyrocketed. To meet this demand efficiently and sustainably, a consortium led by South Korean conglomerate Posco Holdings is investing in EnergyX, a lithium technology startup pioneering direct lithium extraction (DLE) technologies. The goal is to explore more efficient and cost-effective ways to produce lithium, a vital element for the green energy transition.
The global push to electrify economies and transition to sustainable energy sources has triggered a hunt for stable and efficient supplies of lithium. Traditional lithium production methods, such as evaporation ponds from brine deposits, while widespread, can be slow and costly. As a result, innovations in direct lithium extraction (DLE) technologies have garnered significant attention. EnergyX, along with its peers, is at the forefront of developing these revolutionary techniques.
DLE technologies, if successful, hold the potential to produce lithium faster and more affordably, offering a promising solution for the green energy revolution. One of the locations where these technologies can be groundbreaking is in northern Argentina, where Posco is developing the Sal de Oro lithium project. As part of this endeavor, Posco and its partners aim to leverage EnergyX’s innovations.
The consortium, which includes South Korea’s Elohim Partners and IMM Investment Global, will participate in EnergyX’s Series B funding round, which totals $50 million. Posco, which invests through these funds, plans to collaborate with EnergyX in bringing the DLE technology closer to commercial production.
Jaeho Rhee, CEO of Elohim, emphasized the importance of lithium in today’s world and expressed the consortium’s expectations for EnergyX to excel in the lithium extraction market. While the specific amount of funding from the consortium has not been disclosed, Posco will have the opportunity to invest in other lithium projects developed by EnergyX in proportion to its investment in the startup.
EnergyX is in the process of establishing a DLE demonstration plant in Argentina’s Salta Province, situated near Posco’s Sal de Oro project. Posco will put EnergyX’s technology to the test as they evaluate whether to license it for commercial use. This collaboration is seen as a key step toward a potential full-fledged commercial agreement between the two companies.
Teague Egan, CEO of EnergyX, envisions Posco as a flagship customer for Argentina, paving the way for a productive partnership that could revolutionize lithium extraction. Last year, Posco declared its commitment to invest $4 billion in Argentina, with ambitious plans to become South America’s largest lithium producer by aiming to produce 100,000 metric tons of lithium by 2026. This would solidify its position alongside other prominent lithium producers in the region, such as Allkem and Livent. In collaboration with General Motors, Posco is already running the Ultium CAM cathode joint venture, demonstrating its dedication to the growth of the electric vehicle industry.
In addition to its collaboration with Posco, EnergyX is actively seeking Argentine brine deposits for acquisition. This expansion reflects the company’s drive to further innovate and secure sustainable sources of lithium. EnergyX’s determination to make a difference in the lithium extraction landscape is evident in its endeavors, which include the construction of a DLE demonstration plant in Chile. Although EnergyX was disqualified from competition to produce lithium in Bolivia last year, the company continues to press forward with innovations in lithium extraction technology.
The partnership between EnergyX and the consortium led by Posco signifies a significant step forward in the pursuit of sustainable and efficient lithium production for the green energy transition. As the world seeks to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles and renewable energy solutions, the development and deployment of cutting-edge lithium extraction technologies become paramount. This collaboration highlights the importance of industry leaders investing in innovation and sustainability to meet the growing demand for lithium, a cornerstone of the green energy revolution.
Reporting by Alireza Sabet; Editing by Sarah White