Lake Resources Ltd’s (ASX:LKE) provider of a direct extraction ion exchange process, Lilac Solutions, has raised US$20 million in Series A funding through Bill Gates-led fund Breakthrough Energy.
Lake's shares, which closed yesterday at 3.6 cents, ran up 69% to a high of 6.1 cents before settling at around 5 cents.
The $1 billion Breakthrough Energy fund has been established by many of the world’s top business leaders to support companies with the potential to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Lilac is commercialising a new ion exchange technology for lithium extraction from brine resources that is substantially faster, cheaper and more scalable than existing technology.
The process does away with the need for large evaporation ponds and is able to return the lithium-depleted brine back underground.
Lilac’s funding will enable the expansion of its engineering team, scale up production of its unique ion exchange beads, the core of the company’s lithium extraction system and deploy the Lilac Technology.
“Great vote of confidence”
Lake managing director Steve Promnitz said: “This is a great vote of confidence in Lake’s strategy from known successful investors to use direct extraction methods to produce high purity lithium.
“This is quality, third party valuation in Lake selecting Lilac as our technology provider providing increased efficiency in recoveries and a shorter time to market with sustainable lithium products and a smaller environmental footprint without expansive evaporation ponds.
“These investors made money by investing in disruptive technologies, seeing opportunities and promoting higher efficiencies with greater environmental outcomes.”
Lilac Solutions chief executive officer David Snydacker said: “Other companies have tried to build these ion-exchange beads in the past but they were either not selective enough at picking lithium out of the mixture of minerals or fell apart after just a few cycles.”
Sustainable lithium production
Lake aims to produce a high-quality, low-impurity lithium product capable of attracting premium pricing from its Kachi Lithium Brine Project.
The PFS which is almost completed is anticipated to show production costs in the lower part of the global cost curve.
The direct extraction process, together with the Kachi project, offers a sustainable solution for the downstream battery makers by extracting lithium from brines using ion-exchange without traditional evaporation ponds.
Brine is returned to the aquifer once the lithium has been extracted without changing the brine chemistry.
This addresses increasing interest from electric vehicle makers (OEM’s) and battery makers to demonstrate they have access to a sustainable scalable supply chain for raw materials.
Lake is planning on producing the first large samples late next month.