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'There's really only two ways to go to market' - EnergyX's Teague Egan on lithium and incumbents

Kitco News

(Kitco News) - EnergyX prefers to take the industry as it is.

In July the company's CEO Teague Egan spoke to Kitco. EnergyX is developing direct lithium extraction technology (DLE).

Lithium is mostly mined from hard rock or pumped from brines, which is then evaporated to high concentrations before being processed. The South American salars are brine operations and account for most of the world's production. It is home to the top producers in lithium space, such as Albemarle and SQM.

Brine operations have a water problem. Evaporation lowers the overall water table in an area where water is scarce. Agriculture in the area can be affected. Direct lithium extraction can potentially overcome the water issue. Filters and absorption techniques pull lithium directly from water rather than using evaporation.

This summer EnergyX received a $450 million investment commitment from Global Emerging Markets, an alternative investment firm, to keep advancing DLE.

"There's really two ways to go to market," said Egan, noting that EnergyX considered becoming a miner and using its own technology to process lithium. The second option was working with industry incumbents.

"[You] have a number of lithium producers that are producing lithium today that have existing infrastructure, evaporation ponds. They've spent billions of dollars on that infrastructure, and they don't necessarily want to see something come in and replace what they've already built, right?" said Egan.

"[We] were basically faced with a decision. We could go in two ways: one, we could go do it all by ourselves, find a resource and not only become a technology producer, but also essentially a miner or two, we could create our technology to be complementary to the existing infrastructure and plug into these evaporation ponds."

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