As a global critical materials company at the forefront of CO2 reduction trends, AMG is entering the lithium market with an investment of approximately $50 million in the construction of a lithium concentrate (spodumene) plant at its existing Mibra mine in Brazil.
With mining infrastructure already in place at Mibra, and with the recovery of lithium bearing materials from existing and future tailings (by-products of AMG’s profitable tantalum operations at the mine), AMG expects to be the low cost producer of lithium concentrate globally.
Operations are expected to commence in the first quarter of 2018, with planned production of 90,000 MT per year, and an option to expand to 180,000 MT. AMG has been operating a pilot lithium concentrate plant at the site since 2010.
AMG Lithium is currently undertaking a drilling program at its Mibra mine in Brazil and published an updated mineral resource statement in April 2017. The Company targets to double its annual lithium concentrate production capacity to 180,000 MT by the end of 2019.
Lithium is a reactive metal with a high heat capacity and a low atomic mass. Lithium has become a critical component for battery electrolytes and electrodes due to its high electrode potential and high charge- and power-to-weight ratio. Lithium-ion batteries, in particular, have a high energy density and are rechargeable.
The market for lithium, a reactive metal with a high heat capacity, is growing rapidly, driven by a rising need for renewable energy (grid storage), strong demand for electric vehicles (EVs), and robust growth in smartphones, tablets, and wearables.
In addition to demand for lithium for batteries, non-battery demand includes a wide variety of applications, including in the life sciences, ceramics, coolants and specialty chemicals fields.