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GM and Element 25 to expand US EV supply chain with domestic manganese sulfate production

General Motors and Australia-based Element 25 Limited announced an agreement for Element 25 to supply up to 32,500 metric tons of manganese sulfate (MnSO4) annually to support the annual production of more than 1 million GM EVs in North America.

Under the agreement, GM will provide Element 25 with a US$85-million loan to partially fund the construction of a new facility in the state of Louisiana for production of battery-grade high-purity manganese sulfate (HPMSM)—a key component in lithium-ion battery cathodes—starting in 2025. Element 25 will produce manganese sulfate at the facility by processing manganese concentrate from its mining operations in Australia. It is expected to be the first facility of its kind in the United States.

The comminution circuit at the plant will take ROM (run-of-mine) manganese ores from Element 25’s 100%-owned Butcherbird Manganese Project in Western Australia and reduce them to P90 < 2mm. This circuit will consist of a small cone crusher and rolls crusher and small drum plant capable of processing approximately 10 tph. Following reduction to less than 2mm, the manganese ore will be leached in a multi-stage tank leach circuit.

Once leached the PLS (pregnant leach solution) will be purified by addition of various reagents wherein the base metal contaminants within the PLS will drop out of suspension and will be filtered from the polished leach solution. The polished leach solution will be crystallised in a multi-stage crystallization process to produce HPMSM.

Element 25 projects that the 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 fertilizer feedstock, a ferro-silicon (FeSi) smelter feedstock suitable for use in steel production processes, and a gypsum by-product for industrial use.

GM is scaling EV production in North America well past 1 million units annually and our direct investments in battery raw materials, processing and components for EVs are providing certainty of supply, favorable commercial terms and thousands of new jobs, especially in the US, Canada and free trade agreement countries like Australia.

The facility E25 will build in Louisiana is significant because it’s expected be the first plant in the United States to produce battery-grade manganese sulfate, a key component of cathode active material which helps improve EV battery cell cost.

—Doug Parks, GM executive vice president, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain

Element 25 expects to invest approximately US$290 million to build a 230,000-square-foot facility for the first train. Site preparation is planned to begin in the third quarter of 2023 and the plant is scheduled to open in 2025. The facility is projected to create around 200 permanent jobs when it is fully operational.

Butcherbird hosts a large manganese resource of more than 260 million tonnes. Butcherbird has very simple geology—which simplifies mining operations—and extremely low levels of contaminants. It is mined in an environmentally benign manner with no explosives, no waste water and only water used as a reagent.

2001 Butcherbird Geology Cross Section

The ore zone at Butcherbird’s Yanneri Ridge is at surface, and dips shallowly to the north, resulting in a very low strip ratio estimated at 0.2:1. Source: Element 25.

GM continues to strengthen its domestic supply base for EV production. In addition to manganese sulfate, GM has announced direct investments in lithium, nickel and other commodities, as well as cathode active material (CAM) and CAM precursor.

GM and its joint venture partners are installing 160GWh of battery cell manufacturing capacity in the US, and its suppliers are onshoring production of permanent magnets and other EV components to North America. To date, these initiatives are creating thousands of jobs in states and provinces including California, Louisiana, Nevada, Texas, Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee, Ontario and Québec.


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