Stellantis Invests Over $100 Million in Controlled Thermal Resources for Lithium Extraction

Stellantis Invests Over $100 Million in Controlled Thermal Resources for Lithium Extraction

Automaker Stellantis has revealed its decision to inject more than $100 million into California-based Controlled Thermal Resources as part of its growing involvement in the direct lithium extraction (DLE) sector. This move comes amid the global search for new electric vehicle battery metal sources, driven by the green energy transition and the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act. The announcement was made by the parent company of Chrysler and Jeep on Thursday.

The investment by Stellantis underscores its commitment to harnessing DLE technologies. These innovative methods aim to efficiently extract lithium from saline brine deposits, avoiding the need for ecologically challenging open pit mines or large evaporation ponds – the traditional methods of lithium extraction.

As part of this investment, Stellantis has also agreed to significantly increase its procurement of lithium from Controlled Thermal. The enhanced order has been scaled up to 65,000 metric tons annually, a nearly threefold expansion from the previous arrangement. This augmented lithium supply will be secured for a duration of at least 10 years, starting in 2027.

Rod Colwell, CEO of Controlled Thermal, expressed the significance of Stellantis’ investment, stating, “This substantial commitment is a significant stride towards advancing this pivotal project.”

Controlled Thermal is set to invest more than $1 billion in the separation of lithium from geothermal brines beneath California’s Salton Sea. By using superhot geothermal brines, the company plans to generate renewable power through the spinning of turbines. This innovative approach is expected to significantly reduce carbon emissions during lithium production.

Controlled Thermal has addressed challenges faced by others in the field. A recently established $65 million facility is equipped to eliminate unwanted substances like silica from the brine. DLE equipment, licensed from Koch Industries, will then be employed to extract lithium.

Stellantis’ CEO Carlos Tavares highlighted the importance of the partnership with Controlled Thermal, considering it “a significant step toward our commitment to delivering clean, safe, and affordable mobility for our customers and our planet.”

Both companies have chosen not to disclose the precise investment amount. Controlled Thermal aims to secure final permits by October and initiate construction of a commercial lithium plant soon thereafter. The financing process is being led by Goldman Sachs to seek additional debt and equity funding.

Controlled Thermal had initially planned to supply lithium to General Motors by 2024, but the timeline has been extended to 2025. GM noted its close collaboration with Controlled Thermal and its confidence in its raw material supply to meet its target of producing 1 million EVs by 2025.

Stellantis is also invested in Vulcan Energy Resources, a company engaged in the development of a DLE project in Germany.

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