A month after achieving battery grade quality across all specifications at its Jiangsu lithium carbonate plant, Galaxy Resources has demonstrated major reductions in the sodium and sulphate levels of its product. These reductions mean the battery grade lithium carbonate produced is of higher purity than previous batches.
Sodium levels can be one of the most detrimental impurities for lithium cathode and lithium-ion battery manufacturers because of the potential to cause oxidation and gassing in the final battery product. Excessive sodium levels can cause reduction in charging and discharging abilities and the life of the battery.
Galaxy says its latest test results indicate sodium levels have dropped to a low of 20ppm, from 117ppm in July. Battery grade lithium is below 250ppm.
The company’s managing director Iggy Tan says “These latest results justify our decision to have designed the Jiangsu plant to produce high purity lithium carbonate. The reduction in impurity levels is a key step in quality improvement of our battery grade lithium carbonate and we are now consistently producing a product that is superior to almost all of our competitors in the lithium carbonate market.”
Similar quality improvements have been made in sulphate levels after original batches met battery grade requirements of less than 800ppm. The most recent batches have shown a reduction of about 30% to 530ppm. Too much sulphate can also lead to gassing and leakage in lithium-ion batteries.
Galaxy produced its first lithium carbonate at the Jiangsu plant in May this year and then sold the first 7-tonne batch in June. The product is made from spodumene concentrate extracted from the company’s Mt Cattlin mine in Western Australia.
Iggy Tan says the company is on track to ramp up annual production to 17,000 tonnes by May 2013. All areas of the Aus$100 million plant in China’s Yangtze River International Chemical Industrial Park are performing well.
It is the first fully-automated lithium carbonate plant in China and one of the most highly sophisticated plants of its kind in the world. Galaxy has long term offtake framework agreements signed with 13 major cathode producers in China and Mitsubishi Corporation of Japan for 100% of Jiangsu’s production capacity.