Element 25 secures $22.6 million for manganese processing

Manganese miner Element 25 has finalised a $22.6 million (US$15 million) share placement in the company from global automaker Stellantis N.V. which will help finance the development of a battery-grade high purity manganese sulphate monohydrate (HPMSM) facility in the United States.

Stellantis has committed to a take or pay supply agreement to take 45kt of battery grade HPMSM from the Louisiana facility over five years, with the $22.6 million a pre-payment for the manganese product.

E25 also has an agreement to supply General Motors’ USA lithium battery plants with HPMSM, which comes with a US$115 million loan facility, taking E25 project commitments to US$115 million.

Element 25 is to produce manganese from its Butcherbird Project in the Pilbara, Australia’s largest onshore source of manganese and plans several production facilities for what is a critical ingredient for lithium ion energy storage technologies.

The initial HPMSM plant will produce a nominal 65,000 t/year of battery grade HPMSM per train, expanding to 130,000 tonnes per annum with a second train.

Additionally, the plant will produce re-usable material in the form of a fertiliser feedstock, a ferro-silicon (FeSi) smelter feedstock suitable for use in steel production processes, and a gypsum by-product for industrial use.

The processing circuit proposed is based around taking E25 manganese ores and converting them to HPMSM via a proprietary hydrometallurgical process.

Element 25 managing director Justin Brown took to social media and said there was a shift away from cobalt, which has meant that the proportion of nickel used in EV batteries has been increasing.

“However nickel has become problematic because all significant nickel supply comes from laterite processing in Indonesia, which is energy intensive and an environmentally destructive process,” explained.

“Manganese is now the go-to metal and while the transition isn’t going to happen overnight, I’m told by the OEMs that the factories they are building now will be able to switch across to high manganese cathode materials without any significant re-tooling.”

In 2019 the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) funded metals company Element 25 to trial the use of variable renewable energy in processing manganese from its salts through an electrowinning process.

The one million dollar project involved laboratory testing to assess how the process responds to wind and solar which could be used in E25’s Butcherbird development in the Pilbara.

Further reading:
Element 25 to trial mineral processing with renewables

Picture: Element 25

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