Australia has been the world’s leading supplier of lithium for electric vehicle batteries. According to recent reports from CleanTechnica, a major lithium mine in Australia uses batteries, solar, and wind energy to mine more sustainably.
The Kathleen Valley Lithium Project will provide the battery industry with significant spodumene concentrate. It will apparently be powered by the largest off-grid power plant for a mining operation in Australia, which will mostly use batteries and renewable energy.
Remarkably, it will have a 95-megawatt power capacity (MW). To be specific, five 6-MW wind turbines, 16 MW of solar PV panels, and 17 MW/19 MWh of battery storage will provide that. However, the off-grid power system also uses certain dirty energy sources, including 27 MW of fossil fuel power capacity and 5 MW of backup diesel capacity. Thus, the total does not equal to exactly 95 MW.
Notably, the firm that will build and provide renewable energy to the project site is Zenith Energy, while Liontown Resources is the mining developer. Interestingly, Zenith Energy apparently received the rights to this from Liontown Resources 15 years ago.
Earlier this year, Ford signed an offtake contract for the spodumene concentrate “for an initial term of 5 years from the commencement of commercial production.” However, it must be noted that before the spodumene concentrate reaches Ford EV batteries, it will additionally be processed into lithium hydroxide. Nonetheless, Ford further contributed a $300 million debt facility to the project’s finance.
“Ford continues working to source more deeply into the battery supply chain to meet our goals of delivering more than 2 million EVs annually for our customers by 2026,” Ford’s vice president of EV Industrialization, Lisa Drake, stated. “This is one of several agreements we’re working on to help us secure raw materials to support our plan to deliver EVs for customers around the world and meet our environmental, social and governance commitments.”
Other companies that have agreed to purchase spodumene concentrate from the Kathleen Valley Lithium Project include Tesla and LG Energy Solution (formerly LG Chem). Ford and LG both committed to yearly offtake of 150,000 DMT, while Tesla will have 100,000 DMT in the first year. However, Tesla’s annual offtake will increase to 150,000 DMT in the following years.
About 90% of the project’s initial spodumene concentrate production capacity, which is about 500,000 DMT per year, is collectively represented by these offtake agreements. Furthermore, the spodumene concentrate production is scheduled to start in the third quarter of 2024, and over 20 years of mining operation are anticipated in this project
With more than 400 MW of installed power capacity across Australia, Zenith Energy should be more than capable of implementing such a project, but this will also represent a significant expansion in the scope of its initiatives.
“Zenith Energy is proud to continue to play a lead role in the energy transition and to provide our partners with a glide path to net zero,” said Zenith Energy Managing Director Hamish Moffat.