Galaxy Resources has achieved commercial production of 99.9% purity lithium carbonate at its Jiangsu plant. The plant is the fourth-largest in the world, and recent adjustments and improvements have resulted in production of the higher specification product, with the operation originally designed to annually produce 17,000 tonnes of battery grade (99.5%) lithium carbonate.
Galaxy says the higher grade lithium carbonate (EV grade) will be used to make the electrolyte solution for lithium-ion batteries which power mobile phones, laptops and hybrid vehicles.
The company’s managing director Iggy Tan says the option of producing the higher grade lithium carbonate will give Galaxy more marketing choices. “We wanted to become a market leader in EV grade production, so I’m very pleased to have achieved this quality beyond the plant design.
“Although it’s a smaller market, the higher priced EV grade makes it a valuable product to add to our mix and we will determine how much of each product to produce based on demand levels from customers,” says Iggy Tan.
Meantime, Galaxy has settled the second tranche of an Aus$20 million funding facility with Deutsche Bank after the recommencement of operations at Jiangsu. The first tranche was delivered on December 17, 2012, with the second payment received once Deutsche Bank had completed a conditional site inspection.
The money was sought for working capital after a fatal explosion in November 2012 at the site resulted in the plant being closed until February. The plant took three weeks to return to full operational capacity despite the difficult and emotional period for staff and management at the site.
“It is a credit to the Jiangsu team to have brought Jiangsu back online so quickly and efficiently,” says Iggy Tan. “The plant is now producing at a stable rate, and, importantly producing the desired battery grade lithium carbonate. We will continue to increase production and sales as part of Jiangsu’s ramp up program,” he said.
Galaxy has also appointed a new lithium sales and marketing consultant, Joe Lowry, to the company’s sales and marketing team after spending 23 years with lithium producer FMC.