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American Manganese Inc. (TSXV:AMY; PINKS:AMYZF;FRANK:2AM) is a specialty and critical metal company focused on using its patented proprietary hydrometallurgical process to recycle lithium-ion battery cathode materials. The company recently submitted applications for government research grants from both the United States and Canada to carry out proof-of-concept testing for recycling lithium-ion electric vehicle batteries.
American Manganese plans to partner with Kemetco Research Inc. on bench-scale studies of the conceptual process to show it can successfully treat spent lithium ion battery cathode materials, producing recycled cathode materials suitable for re-use in new lithium ion batteries. Kemetco is a privately owned contract research and development company specializing in extractive metallurgy, chemical processing and specialty chemical analysis.
“There is currently no known commercial technology for large scale recycling of cathode materials of multiple chemistries. Spent cathode materials represent an ideal resource material to be processed with American Manganese’s proprietary hydrometallurgical process.”
—Norman Chow, President of Kemetco Research Inc.
- Global EV market expected to grow from 2.6 million unit sales in 2015 to over 6.0 million in 2024, according Navigant Research
- EV batteries have an average shelf-life of only five to eight years
- Demand for key materials outpacing supply, especially for lithium and cobalt
- Recycling technology reduces the demand for new cathode materials
- Providing a source of lower cost recycled cathode materials with the potential for higher profit margins for battery manufacturers.
- Hydrometallurgical process that is easily scalable
- Process applicable to multiple lithium ion battery chemistries including lithium-cobalt, lithium-aluminum-cobalt, lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt, and lithium-manganese.
- Significant environmental benefits including:
- Substantial reduction of landfill waste
- Reduction of energy consumption and emissions of CO2 and other pollutants
Opportunity: Innovative Lithium-ion Battery Recycling Technology
INN: The electric car revolution is grounded in the movement toward more sustainable, environmentally-friendly ways to live within a technologically advanced society. So, wasted batteries buried in landfills and more resources pulled out of the ground are problematic for EV and battery manufacturers.
Larry Reaugh, President and CEO of American Manganese: You’re exactly right. Lithium seems to be at the top everybody’s mind within some of the government agencies we’ve talked to in the United States. They’re very interested in our lithium recycling process. The electric vehicle market is a young one and what the industry is beginning to realize is that the batteries have about five-year life. And after five years, you’ve got to do something with them. None of the current options addresses the fact that we have a renewable resource here that we’re not exploiting, right?
INN: Is there anyone else currently recycling lithium from EV batteries?
LR: Currently, there’s no process out there that actually recycles the powders. There are other companies out there that are recycling the lithium-ion batteries, but they don’t have any lithium recovery. Most reclamation comes from burning the batteries and getting a percentage of the cobalt back, the rest goes into slag.
We’re offering to take these battery materials, shred them and then treat them chemically using our patented process to produce a powder that is ready to go back into the battery.
As the electric vehicle market takes off and government agencies begin to realize the extent of the problem posed by spent batteries, we can expect legislation that will challenge the EV and battery manufacturers to address this problem. Some places like Germany and Canada have recycling incentives in place.
China’s come out with legislation requiring EV manufacturers to have a solid reclamation or recycling plan for batteries. The legislation aims to provide guidance to the relevant enterprises to carry out electric vehicle power battery production and recycling, and will form the basis of a new recycling system for upstream and downstream firms in the sector.
Contemplated recycling facilities could be built in any industrial park where there is heavy concentration of EV batteries: For example Vancouver, Los Angeles or New York. We’ve had inquiries from India and the Philippines, in which they’re interested in jointly working with our process and licensing the process in those countries to build plants there.
INN: The projected demand growth for the EV battery market is expected to outpace available lithium supplies. So, American Manganese has proposed a solution based on metals extraction technology to address this challenge. Please explain how this unique lithium reclamation process works.
Norman Chow, President of Kemetco Research: Sure. First, let me give you a technical background of how a lithium-ion battery works. Each battery has a cathode and an anode which are of opposite charges, along with a membrane in the middle. The anode is graphite. In a lithium-ion battery, that cathode material consists usually of a base metal oxide skeleton, or crystal structure; for example, cobalt or manganese or cobalt-manganese, or cobalt-manganese-nickel. Lithium-ions are embedded inside the base metal oxide skeleton.
Lithium is a positively charged ion. When you discharge a battery, all the lithium leaves the skeleton, moving from the cathode through the middle membrane and absorbing onto the graphite anode. When you charge the battery, the lithium ions move from the graphite anode, through the membrane and back into the base metal oxide skeleton of the cathode.
When you charge and discharge a battery over a number of cycles, the skeleton collapses and the lithium can no longer leave the skeleton anymore, so the battery has reached the end of its life. Although the skeleton has collapsed, the base metals and lithium is still there and extractable using our technology.
The American Manganese lithium reclamation process that we developed is the same technology used to extract base metals from low-grade ores. Since the cathode material is mainly a base metal with lithium embedded in the skeleton, we use the exact same hydrometallurgical process to recover the cathode material for recycling.
We can re-dissolve these base metals as well as the lithium into a solution that can then be reformed in a usable cathode powder. The powder is then treated by the same process that battery manufacturers use. The powder is run through a heat treatment cycle, after which a base metal oxide skeleton, or crystal structure, forms. Next, the skeleton is charged and the lithium moves into place, embedding into the skeleton.
Investing News Network: Your hydrometallurgical process was originally developed to extract base metals from low grade ore during a mining operation. Why are you shifting the focus of your company to reclamation technology over developing resources in the ground?
LR: It’s economics really. Quite frankly, if the electric vehicles start taking off according to the industry projections, you can’t bring mines on fast enough to meet the demand for lithium, cobalt and other battery-related metals. So the prices of those commodities are going to rise. That’s the reason why recycling of the batteries is going to become a much more important solution.
Our recycling process offers a lower-cost, time-saving opportunity to get those materials back without opening new mines. Instead of dealing with low-grade ores and having to perform a lot of mining, crushing and grinding, we are starting with a highly concentrated material.
With battery recycling, we can bypass the five to ten years of permitting needed to bring a mine into production. These battery recycling plants can be put anywhere close to the source, anywhere in the world. And that’s an ultimate goal to do that. The products can be recycled faster and easier then you can bring new mines on. That’s the bottom line for the economic driver of the recycling solution.
Larry W. Reaugh – President, CEO and Director
Larry Reaugh has five decades of experience in the mining industry and for the past thirty years he has been the CEO and President of several exploration, development and producing mining companies listed on the TSX, TSX Venture and NSDAQ exchanges. Several of his companies have made significant discoveries, three of which (gold) went on to be producing mines. Through his career Reaugh has raised in excess of $250 million for junior resource mining companies.
Michael MacLeod – P.Eng., MBA, COO
Michael MacLeod has spent 30 years executing major capital projects and mine developments in the mining industry, including the Byron Creek coal mine expansion for Esso Resources Canada Limited and in-pit crusher/conveying system and Highmont concentrator re-location for Highland Valley Copper Ltd.
Andris Kikauka –Director
Andris Kikauka is a Professional Geoscientist and a member of the Geological Association of Canada. He has practiced his profession for thirty years in precious and base metal exploration in the Cordilllera of Western Canada working for Anaconda Canada Exploration (1980-1984), Skyline Explorations, Inel Resources, Gulf International Minerals (1985-1989), in South America working for Carson Gold (1990), in Mexico and Guatemala working mineral exploration projects for Francisco Gold and Almaden Minerals (1996-2006) and for three years in uranium exploration in the Canadian Shield working for Rayrock Mines and Uran-Canada (1977-1979).
Ed Skoda – Director
Ed Skoda has over 25 years’ experience in the mining industry in which time he has worked on many national and international projects. During the past 15 years, Skoda has worked as a consultant and in a supervisory capacity as a shift boss, superintendent, or project manager for various mining and exploration companies. Based out of Guadalajara, Jalisco, he oversees all Mexico operations for SJ Geophysics Ltd.
Jan Eigenhuis – Director
Jan Eigenhuis is a former senior executive at Manganese Metal Company of South Africa (MMC). He currently acts as a consultant to the electrolytic manganese industry worldwide. It is notable that he counts MMC as well as the Chinese manganese producers as clients. Jan is a graduate of the University of Pretoria; B.Sc. (Chem. & Math.) and the University of South Africa; MBL (Master Business Leadership). His 30 years of business experience in mineral beneficiation and the electrolytic manganese metal industry
Norman L Tribe – Director
Norman Tribe is the president and principal of N. Tribe & Associates Ltd a geological contractor serving the Mining Industry for 47 years. Tribe has a total of 55 years’ experience in most phases of mining including underground grade control, mine development, mine evaluation, property evaluation, project management, project consultant, exploration management, plant design, exploration geology, reclamation and reporting to the various government entity’s and/or security exchanges.
Kurt Lageschulte – Director
Mr. Lageschulte is a Partner and Senior Analysts at Broadbill Investment Partners, LLC, New York, NY. Broadbill Partners is an investment firm with offices in New York, Florida and California and currently has 130 Million of assets under management across four managed funds. Kurt is a founding Partner at Broadbill, and was previously employed as a Senior Analyst with Aspen Advisors from 2002 to 2010. Kurt has worked as an advisor and active member of a number of committees. Most recently, he has advised the Special Committee of the Penn Treaty American Company board in a complex negotiation with industry regulators.