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The right place at the right time – Hell’s Kitchen Lithium and Geothermal

Controlled Thermal Resources (CTR) sight of the Hell's Kitchen project site (source: company)
Alexander Richter 6 Sep 2019

Controlled Thermal Resources (CTR) continues work on its Hell's Kitchen Lithium and Geothermal project that aims to combine extraction of Lithium and geothermal power generation on a site at the Salton Sea, California.

In an update on the company’s activities, Rod Colwell, CEO of Controlled Thermal Resources shares his view on why his company’s Hell’s Kitchen Lithium and Geothermal Project is positioned at the right place and at the right time. The following is his update.

With August wrapped up and the U.S. summer cooling off, CTR continues to progress its Hell’s Kitchen Lithium and Power projects in Imperial Valley with commercial operation of the first 15,000-tonne lithium carbonate facility and 49.9 megawatt power plant projected for 2023.

We also expect cooler heads to prevail in the media after several months of negative-hype regarding spodumene (raw material from hard rock mining) oversupply and the consequent price conditions for both lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide products.

I’d like to address this, as there are many factors at play and there seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding these reports.

Some facts to consider:

  • Battery-grade lithium products from hard rock mined spodumene (mainly developed in Australia) are the highest cost lithium products in the battery market.
  • The hard rock raw material contains about a 4-6% concentration of lithium. After mining, it is generally transported to China for further processing into battery-grade lithium chemicals.
  • The process of mining the raw product is relatively simple; however, bottlenecks at any of the actual battery processing stages can create market conditions that look very much like ‘oversupply’.
  • Many in the media are failing to acknowledge the speed at which the Electric Mobility and Energy Storage sectors are growing.
  • Plain and simple: Market analysts from across the globe agree that demand for battery-grade lithium products will grow from its current position of around 200,000 tonnes per annum to at least 1.2 to 1.5 million tonnes per annum by 2028 – with supply deficits expected as early as 2023.
  • Timing is critical for the development of low cost, sustainable solutions.

 Direct lithium extraction from thermal brine:

  • Direct lithium extraction from thermal brine is one of the lowest-cost methods to obtain battery-grade lithium products.
  • Battery-grade lithium products are produced from the brine directly (taking less than one hour), whilst utilizing renewable thermal heat as various forms of energy for processing.
  • The Salton Sea highly-mineralized geothermal brine resource in California is the largest and most robust in North America; in fact, the largest and most studied geothermal power resource on the planet.
  • CTR plans to deliver battery-grade lithium carbonate from our first train in 2023, just as demand is expected to outstrip supply on a global basis.

According to one global auto manufacturer that we are currently having discussions with, our first phase of 15,000 tonnes LCE would represent around 15% of their yearly demand. They are very comfortable with this ratio and as a result, we continue to work towards building a strong, long-term relationship.

In short, CTR is not concerned with the current media sentiment regarding the global lithium market. We are ideally positioned in a secure location with a known and robust resource, backed by exceptional investment confidence and construction timing to deliver one of the most sustainable and low-cost lithium projects in the world today.

Right on time: Hell’s Kitchen Lithium and Power projects update

We are pleased to report construction work continues in preparation for CTR’s Hell’s Kitchen Lithium and Power projects. CTR’s General Manager Graeme Donaldson is overseeing these activities as the work progresses on schedule.

CTR’s engineering consultant HATCH is nearing completion of the HKG Preliminary Economic Assessment and the team has activated early preparations for the next major engineering milestone.

Discussions with global battery manufacturers and auto groups for long-term offtake supply contracts are advancing with further meetings scheduled.

Completion of a 25 year, A+ rated Power Purchase Agreement is expected shortly. Negotiations with further power off-takers are underway.

CTR and its financial advisor KPMG continue active negotiations with strategic financial investors to complete the project’s development financing.

Sophisticated Investors in the United States have recently been introduced to CTR’s projects as our Financial Controller, Antonio Bestard continues to secure new interest. You can reach Antonio for further information at info@cthermal.com.

www.cthermal.com