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General Motors invests in EnergyX lithium extraction

UAW Native 5960 member Kimberly Fuhr inspects a Chevrolet Bolt EV throughout car manufacturing on Thursday, Might 6, 2021, on the Common Motors Orion Meeting Plant in Orion Township, Michigan.

Steve Fecht for Chevrolet

Common Motors mentioned Tuesday its enterprise capital arm will lead a $50 million financing spherical for EnergyX, a Texas-based startup growing a extra environment friendly technique to extract and course of lithium from salt flats.

Lithium is a essential element in batteries for electrical automobiles. Below the deal, GM will even assist develop EnergyX’s know-how and can have first proper of refusal to purchase lithium from any initiatives developed by the startup.

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EnergyX demonstrated its know-how with a pilot plant in South America’s “Lithium Triangle,” an space of salt flats masking components of Argentina, Bolivia and Chile that incorporates over half of the world’s identified lithium reserves.

Brine swimming pools on the Albemarle Corp. Lithium mine in Calama, Antofagasta area, Chile, on Tuesday, July 20, 2021.

Cristobal Olivares | Bloomberg | Getty Photos

Presently, miners within the space extract lithium by pumping water underground to flush out the mineral then permitting the ensuing brine to evaporate in a sequence of ponds. The method is comparatively low-cost, but it surely solely recovers 30% to 40% of the overall lithium – whereas utilizing big quantities of water and land.

EnergyX’s pilot plant, which opened final yr, has demonstrated that its know-how can recuperate 90% or extra of the lithium in brine, whereas utilizing a lot much less vitality, water and land than current processes.

EnergyX plans to make use of the brand new funding to construct 5 bigger demonstration vegetation in North and South America.

For GM, a key precedence is to unlock a North American provide of lithium, which is not cost-competitive with international provides utilizing present extraction strategies. The auto large believes that EnergyX’s know-how may scale back prices sufficient to make North American lithium mining viable, whereas minimizing the environmental impression of extracting the mineral.

GM will report its first-quarter outcomes earlier than U.S. markets open on Apr. 25.