Pilbara Minerals Ltd, one of Australia’s biggest lithium producers, plans to build a demonstration plant in Western Australia capable of refining the material that is key to the booming global battery metals market.
The pilot plant would process Pilbara Minerals’ hard rock ore into lithium salt near the company’s Pilgangoora Project in Western Australia, in a joint venture with Australia’s Calix Ltd that uses the latter’s patented “calcination” technology.
It is part of a push by Canberra to boost the country’s onshore lithium refining industry, responding to demand from automakers in the US and Europe for battery metals that bypass China.
Australia is the world’s biggest producer of the metal with almost half global supply, but currently exports no refined lithium chemicals.
A growing number of lithium producers are moving into refining in Australia, including US company Albemarle Corp, China’s Tianqi Lithium Corp (天齊鋰業) and Australia’s Wesfarmers Ltd. Most aim to produce battery-grade lithium hydroxide, which could be sold to battery manufacturers ready to use, but none are yet operating at commercial scale.
Pilbara Minerals plans to manufacture a less refined, easier to produce chemical that would be more durable than lithium hydroxide, but would need further processing before it could be used in batteries.
A final investment decision on the demonstration plant is targeted for the first half of next year, the two companies said in a joint regulatory filing yesterday, adding that they were in discussions with the Australian government for a A$20 million (US$13.4 million) grant.
If successful, the technology could be scaled up to commercial levels and potentially licensed to third parties, they said.
Australian Treasurer Jim Chalmers has asked the country’s Treasury to work with the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board and other stakeholders to undertake a review of foreign investment in sectors such as lithium and rare earths, Bloomberg reported last week.
Australia’s latest move adds to a broader push against China’s dominance of battery metals and renewable energy technology following moves by US President Joe Biden aimed at limiting the nation’s influence on key supply chains.
Canada last month strengthened its rules around foreign investments in the sector and ordered three Chinese firms to sell their stakes in a trio of lithium explorers.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government should take steps to cut UK reliance on semiconductors from Taiwan because of the threat posed by China, a draft strategy said. Chinese interference or an invasion of Taiwan would threaten Britain’s economy, according to the unpublished strategy seen by Bloomberg. That is because it would compromise supplies to and from Taiwan, which is home to more than 90 percent of the manufacturing capacity for all leading-edge chips, including the world’s pre-eminent silicon foundry, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (台積電). The strategy is important because semiconductors are used in everything from cellphones to cars, and shortages have
BIG SPENDERS: China’s reopening is a key ‘mega-theme’ for the sector, RBC Bank said, but it remains to be seen how much Chinese tourists will buy The European luxury sector is welcoming the end of pandemic lockdowns in China, as the return of big-spending Chinese tourists could sustain further growth. Prior to the pandemic, Chinese tourists visiting Europe were a major source of sales for luxury houses. The Chinese accounted for “a third of luxury purchases in the world and two-thirds of those purchases were made outside China”, said Joelle de Montgolfier, head of the luxury division at management consulting firm Bain & Co. Their return has led RBC Bank to revise up its growth forecast for the sector this year to 11 percent, from 7 percent previously. “China
‘IT HURTS TOO MUCH’: After talks between Blizzard and NetEase over their contract broke down, servers hosting Blizzard’s games in China were shut down Millions of Chinese gamers have lost access to World of Warcraft after a furious dispute between US title owner Activision Blizzard Inc and NetEase Inc (網易), its longtime local partner in the world’s biggest gaming market. Devotees of the popular game took to social media networks to bemoan the loss, with one posting an image of a failed connection message accompanied by crying emojis. “It really hurts my heart,” one wrote. “It hurts, it hurts too much,” another said. Massively popular worldwide, particularly in the 2000s, World of Warcraft — often abbreviated as WoW — is an online multiplayer role-playing game set in
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday accused Alphabet Inc’s Google of abusing its dominance in digital advertising, threatening to dismantle a key business at the heart of one of Silicon Valley’s most successful Internet firms. The US government said Google should be forced to sell its ad manager suite, tackling a business that generated about 12 percent of Google’s revenues in 2021, but also plays a vital role in the search engine and cloud company’s overall sales. “Google has used anticompetitive, exclusionary, and unlawful means to eliminate or severely diminish any threat to its dominance over digital advertising technologies,” the