Mining minerals

Compass Minerals using lithium mining with minimal impact

Compass Mineral International, a leading supplier of essential minerals like salt and sulphate of potash (used in plant fertilisers), has pivoted to focus on the “new gold rush”, lithium. The minerals company, which has deals to supply lithium to electric vehicle leaders such as Ford and LG Energy, is doubling down on efforts by using new extraction technology to obtain the mineral with minimal environmental impact.

As the largest salt producer in North America and the UK, Compass Minerals plays a vital role in several industries. However, given the automotive industry’s transition to electric vehicles, Compass realizes that the need for critical battery minerals, such as lithium, will only increase.

The company has been in business for more than 175 years and generates $1.2 billion in annual revenue, but Compass aims to reduce its dependence on weather-dependent minerals to focus on markets with high growth potential, such as mining. electric vehicle industry.

Additionally, since the passage of the Cut Inflation Act on August 16, 2022, electric vehicles are expected to see even higher demand with a tax credit of up to $7,500 on new electric vehicle purchases. and $4,000 on used electric vehicle purchases.

For an electric vehicle to qualify, however, 40% of the minerals in its battery must come from the United States or its free trade partners, rising to 80% after 2026.

The clause opens up a significant opportunity for mineral suppliers like Compass Minerals to step up and fill the growing supply gap. That said, demand for battery-grade lithium in North America is expected to grow 700% over the next three years and more than 1,000% by 2030.

Battery-grade lithium demand Source: Compass Minerals

New government incentives and soaring prices are making lithium mining even more attractive. For this reason, Compass Minerals is advancing its lithium project in Ogden, Utah (near Great Salt Lake) with 177,000 leased acres.

Compass Minerals has announced another major milestone in the development of the project. The company says it will use EnergySource Minerals’ Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technology to remove the mineral with minimal environmental impact. Compass will use the mined ore to fulfill supply agreements with electric vehicle leaders including Ford and LG Energy.

After three years of “extensive testing”, Compass Minerals opted for EnergyMinerals DTC technology because of its superior absorption and minimal environmental impact.

Chris Yandell, Head of Lithium at Compass Minerals, says:

Our selection of ESM is the result of a comprehensive and competitive process, and we are excited to continue our development of lithium with their team as a trusted supplier. Our multi-year evaluation has focused on matching the right technology with our specific lithium brine resource – and we are confident that is exactly what we have done with this vendor selection.

Compass Minerals says the project has a potential of approximately 2.4 million metric tons of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) and is fully funded for the next two years. The company also reiterates that it remains on track to become a producer of low-cost battery-grade lithium by 2025.

More importantly, since Compass Minerals uses a solar evaporation process, it should produce far fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Rick Axthelm, Director of Sustainability, says:

Minimizing the environmental impact of our lithium mining and conversion plans has been a key priority for this project since we began evaluating our development options. We will continue to prioritize sustainable operations as we move towards commercial production.

Electrek’s Grasp

As more resources (from governments and private companies) are devoted to promoting a sustainable future, better technologies and other resources are being developed to reduce the impact of electric vehicles even more than they are. already.

Sustainable extraction technology is still in its infancy. With demand for electric vehicles only expected to continue to accelerate for the foreseeable future, lithium will be in high demand.

In particular, new climate initiatives in North America are designed to make sustainable options available to everyone and bring manufacturing back to American soil. For this, sustainable extraction methods will be essential.

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