Japanese Demonstrating Interest In US Lithium Potential
Last week Japan's fourth-largest trading house, Itochu Corp., announced that it has taken a 20 percent stake in a U.S. project to produce lithium and that it expects to start sample shipments for use in car batteries by the end of this year.
By Dave Brown - Exclusive to LithiumInvestingNews.com Last week Japan's fourth-largest trading house, Itochu Corp (PINK: OTCY), announced that it has taken a 20 percent stake in a U.S. project to produce lithium and that it expects to start sample shipments for use in car batteries by the end of this year. The latest joint venture between Itochu and Simbol represents the thirdannouncement pairing Asian investment interests with an international lithium project in the last month. Simbol Mining Corp, was originally a research enterprise that was privately launched under the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), to investigate cost effective lithium extraction from the sea water used in geothermal power generation. Itochu, with multiple business units and diversified revenue streams, will retain exclusive rights to market the lithium produced by the project throughout Asia, excluding India. According to Itochu, Simbol's process is based upon ion exchange technology, and focuses on saving production time in order to obtain cost competitive efficiency. In the absence of greater disclosure on production costs of geothermal brine extraction, the project may not be able to deliver the lithium carbonate at competitive prices. Itochu contends that it can reduce production time to one day from around one and a half years that it would take to produce the same lithium from brine pools. The U.S. project aspires to start commercial production within three to five years, and Itochu's ambitious target aims for about 16,000 tonnes in lithium carbonate equivalent per year. Lithium investors will be monitoring and evaluating this project and the optimistic objectives, since forecasted global demands for the metal will certainly challenge current production levels.