General Motors to invest $50 million in Energy X to develop lithium extraction technologies
General Motors announced that it will dig deeper into lithium mining by leading a $50 million Series B financing round in Energy Exploration Technologies Inc. (Energy X).
It is one of the latest moves by automakers seeking to secure long-term supplies of the metal needed for electric vehicle batteries. The agreement will help Energy X develop its lithium extraction and refinery technology.
In a statement, Energy X reported that the collaboration is focused on unlocking the North American supply of lithium by using EnergyX’s innovative process to maximize efficiency while improving sustainability for GM’s rapidly scaling EV production.
EnergyX’s direct lithium extraction (DLE) technology portfolio can make lithium metal directly from brine and potentially in anode-ready form for EV batteries, which enables more cost effective and sustainable lithium recovery to unlock a vast lithium supply chain in North America that may otherwise be unviable.
Privately-held EnergyX is one of several companies developing so-far unproven direct lithium extraction technologies (DLE) that could help GM filter the metal for its Ultium battery packs from some types of brine that have been largely ignored by the mining industry in favor of evaporation ponds and openpit mines.
Brine deposits are essentially salt-infused waters found throughout the globe. Many teem with lithium, calcium and other minerals, and DLE technologies aim to separate out the lithium and leave the rest.
GM is investing in every stage of the battery supply chain in North America, from raw materials, to processing, to cell components and full battery cell production.
The extensive collaboration between these two American companies includes a technology development program to support commercialization of EnergyX’s advanced DLE and refinery processes, which could complement or replace traditional methods of evaporation ponds; an agreement enabling GM to access competitive lithium offtakes for GM’s exclusive use in EV production, including material sourced from North and South American mining companies contracted by EnergyX and additional strategic financing for lithium production projects in the North and South America, using EnergyX’s technology to drive potential supply chain opportunities for GM.
“The EnergyX team of scientists and engineers have worked relentlessly for five years developing cutting-edge DLE technology to solve the immense bottlenecks that have limited global lithium production and supply chain,” said Teague Egan, CEO, EnergyX. “This single bottleneck (a massive lithium shortage) is the biggest challenge to scaling EV production. We will unlock lithium supply in the U.S., a pivotal move in expanding the EV industry. There are many ways of gauging success, but few are more rewarding than the support of leaders like GM. We’re energized by GM’s investment and will keep a ‘Day 1’ attitude as we pursue our goal of making EnergyX the biggest lithium company in the world.”
“We are committed to securing EV Critical Minerals that are sustainable and cost competitive to maintain our leadership position among automakers,” said Jeff Morrison, GM vice president of Global Purchasing and Supply Chain. “The investment in EnergyX is further proof point of GM’s leadership position. EnergyX is developing a novel Direct Lithium Extraction process that’s not only cost competitive but also will reduce energy, land and water usage as compared to the current extraction and processing process for brine-based Lithium. We are excited to be partnered with EnergyX on their efforts.”
In 2022, EnergyX became the first firm to design, build and commission an in-field pilot plant in the Lithium Triangle, which encompasses more than 65 percent of the known global lithium reserves.
Photo: GM Silverado electric truck