Transport

Taupō firm plans plant to process lithium for EV batteries

A Taupō-based company is on the cusp of developing a lucrative new business using geothermal waste.

Geo40 is looking at the next step in the technical and commercial production of battery-grade lithium in the central North Island.

The company has proven it can extract lithium, a key element in batteries for electric vehicles. It is now planning to scale up and look to take lithium extraction to a commercial level.

"We are right on the cusp of battery-grade, 99.5 percent purity which is the entry level purity to make lithium batteries for the EV (electric vehicle) market," chief executive John Worth said.

He said the company is building a pilot production plant to prove it can extract the lithium from the silica it's already harvesting from the geothermal waste, and it was hoped to be producing commercially in 12 to 18 months.

The silica being produced is being sold overseas for use in making paper, paint and other industrial products.

Worth said lithium is getting about $US10,000 ($NZ15,590) a tonne, with forecasts that demand and prices will keep rising.

He said Geo40's advantage was that the lithium was being "mined" in an environmentally sustainable way from geothermal waste, rather than most lithium which is produced by conventional mining from rock.

"Some of our silica customers have been open and said we'll take every kilo of lithium you produce ... there is a real appetite for lithium that's sustainably sourced which is what's wanted in an electric vehicle future," Worth said.

He said the company was currently raising more capital but still had an ambition to list eventually on the stock exchange.

This article was originally published on RNZ and re-published with permission.

We value fearless, independent journalism. We hope you do too.

Newsroom has repeatedly broken big, important national news stories and established a platform for quality journalism on issues ranging from climate change, sexual harassment and bullying through to science, foreign affairs, women’s sports and politics.

But we need your support to continue, whether it is great, small, ongoing or a one-off donation. If you believe in high quality journalism being available for all please click to become a Newsroom supporter.

Become a Supporter

Comments

Newsroom does not allow comments directly on this website. We invite all readers who wish to discuss a story or leave a comment to visit us on Twitter or Facebook. We also welcome your news tips and feedback via email: contact@newsroom.co.nz. Thank you.

With thanks to our partners