European Lithium Ltd (ASX:EUR) (FRA:PF8) (VSE:ELI) (NEX:EUR) remains focused on becoming the first supplier of sustainably sourced and processed battery-grade lithium hydroxide in Europe, by developing the wholly-owned Wolfsberg Lithium Project in Austria.
Although the company, like most others, has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, EUR is optimistic about its ability to progress the Wolfsberg project once the current situation is resolved.
Strong outlook for lithium
EUR is encouraged by the strong outlook for commodity markets, and specifically lithium, while also continuing to align itself with the ever-developing integrated European battery metals strategy.
Wolfsberg is well-positioned to service the new-age battery industry on the continent in which neighbouring Germany is leading the way.
German move for mass production
A recent development which EUR is closely following is Germany’s push to mass produce large-format lithium-ion cells.
Researchers from the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg, known by ZSW, have launched the ZellkoBatt, a project aimed at optimising large-format lithium-ion cells for automotive applications while cutting the costs of components as well as manufacturing processes.
Scientists will apply the results of their efforts to ZSW’s pilot production line, a research lab that has been up and running since 2014 under factory-like conditions.
The resultant machines and processes will then be ramped up for mass manufacturing.
ZSW’s intention is to build bridges between working prototypes and industrial mass manufacturing in domestic factories.
Fast-tracking battery systems
Margret Wohlfahrt-Mehrens, who heads accumulator research at ZSW, said: “Electric mobility is going to significantly change the automotive supplier industry.
“We have to do everything in our power to fast-track the development and production of battery systems to future-proof Germany as an auto-making nation.
“With the ZellkoBatt project, we are extending our technological infrastructure to accelerate the transfer of innovative battery cells to industrial mass manufacturing.”
The project is being funded to the tune of €12.7 million by the German Ministry of Education and Research.
It is expected to help Germany move beyond pilot manufacturing lines and small production runs, establish manufacturing capacity and meet the growing demand for batteries.
This is in keeping with the government’s goal of increasing the electric vehicle count to up to 10 million by 2030.
Delays “beyond company’s control”
The restrictions brought about by the coronavirus pandemic have resulted in a delay to completion of EUR’s definitive feasibility study (DFS) for the Wolfsberg project.
Although EUR is unable to provide an anticipated completion date owing to the ongoing uncertainty, the market will be informed as soon as the restrictions are lifted by government and the company’s management is in a position to reassess the restart and progress of normal operations.
The company said in a statement that the situation was very uncertain with governments, companies and individuals required to adapt quickly to help curb the rate of infection.
Taking all necessary measures
“Although circumstances are changing almost daily the restrictions to travel specifically has impacted the company directly.
“EUR has a small, nimble and committed team who are taking all necessary measures to ensure the safety of our team, the community and the countries in which we operate, however, the progress of activities at the Wolfsberg Lithium Project are hampered by restrictions that are beyond the company’s control.”
Chief executive officer Dietrich Wanke said: “We are doing everything necessary to protect our staff and the community, while we continue to maintain essential business activities.
“We are not alone in feeling the impact of the disruption caused by these restrictions, however, we continue to work on the project where possible so that we are ready to restart and progress the DFS to completion when restrictions are lifted.”
In regard to the Winance finance facility and the debt facility introduced by Helvetican, EUR is in communication with both parties who have confirmed their commitment to finalising the transactions.
Both have advised that the COVID-19 pandemic has hampered their business plans, however, both wish to fulfil their commitments as soon as practicable.