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Modular system for extracting lithium promises cost savings

International Battery Metals' modular lithium extraction system, being constructed in Utah.

International Battery Metals' modular lithium extraction system under construction in Utah. Photo: Courtesy of IBAT

Houston startup International Battery Metals is building a unique modular lithium extraction system near Utah's Great Salt Lake.

Why it matters: Building offsite and transporting the system by truck can slash costs for lithium projects.

Driving the news: International Battery Metals signed an agreement with Salt Lake City-based US Magnesium to install a direct lithium extraction plant.

Zoom in: "We think we are by far the lowest capex company for extracting lithium," CTO John Burba tells Axios.

  • "We have a plant that we can build in less than two years, put on site in one or two months, hook it up, and get it rolling."
  • The company trades under the symbol IBAT on the Canadian Stock Exchange.

Catch up fast: Typical methods for extracting the lithium used in batteries require evaporating large pools of briny water. It's a slow, inefficient process.

  • A handful of companies are pursuing what's known as direct lithium extraction (DLE), a category of different technologies that aim to make the process more efficient.

The latest: International Battery Metals says it can build a smaller and more mobile extraction system.

  • The one it sent to Utah was built in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

The system spans about 3 acres, small compared with conventional lithium extraction. It has annual production capacity of up to 5,000 tons.

  • The company is completing testing. It expects to bring it online in the next three months.

Reality check: Before this project, International Battery Metals had completed only a three-month test of its lithium extraction system.

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