Officials from Chilean state agency
Corporacion de Fomento de la Produccion
(CORFO) carried out a site inspection of the Salar de Atacama
lithium brine site on Wednesday 23 September, local news agency
La Tercera reported.
CORFO holds land at the salar upon which
Chile’s Sociedad de Quimica y Minera
SA (SQM) runs lithium brine extraction operations
under a long-standing lease agreement. A prolonged dispute over
contractual terms and payments has led to efforts on the part
of the state body to terminate the agreement.
The purpose of the inspection was to
"safeguard the contractual limits of production" among other
reasons, "with a view to the future sustainability of the
Salar’s exploitation", CORFO said.
TSX-V-listed Western Lithium USA
Corp. has begun a testing campaign at its lithium and
potassium demonstration facilities in Weimar and Sondershausen,
Germany. The results are expected in 2016 and will be used to
support design criteria and equipment selection for a
definitive feasibility study for its Kings Valley lithium brine
project, located 100 km northwest of Winnemucca, Nevada,
The junior explorer also said that is
considering options to connect the Kings Valley project to the
Ruby interstate natural gas pipeline as well as looking into
possibilities to develop the project's water resources.
The company is targeting early 2019 to
commence construction at King’s Valley, while
production at its Cauchari-Olaroz brine project –
acquired via its recent merger with
Lithium Americas Corp. – is expected
to begin at a level of 2,500 tpa
by year-end 2016, ramping up to 20,000 tpa by the end of
In downstream news, Tesla Motors
Inc., the posterchild of the lithium-ion (Li-ion)
battery powered electric vehicles (EV) industry, has opened its
first European manufacturing plant in Tilburg in the
Netherlands. It formerly used the Tilburg for the reassembly of
vehicles made made in California, US.
The new facility will produce about 450
cars a week, with capacity for about 1,000 a week.
Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, said
that the company will likely look for further European
production sites from early next year.
The company recently secured sources of
lithium hydroxide for its Reno, Nevada-based Li-ion battery
Gigafactory from AIM-listed explorers Bacanora Minerals
Ltd and Rare Earth Minerals Plc in Sonora, Mexico and
TSX-V-listed Pure Energy Minerals Ltd in Nevada, US.
The University of Texas,
Austen said it had have identified "a new safe and
sustainable cathode material for low-cost sodium-ion batteries"
following studies by a team of researchers under John
Goodenough – whose research played a key role in the
development of the Li-ion battery – at its Cockrell
School of Engineering,.
Sodium-ion batteries could provide a
cheaper alternative to their Li-ion counterparts, but are
currently a long way from commercialisation.
But the university said that the
identification of the cathode
material, made from eldfellite, a "non-toxic and inexpensive
mineral", presented a significant advancement towards this