With the backing of the US government and private investment groups, Evolution Metals (EMC), a Florida-based mining, refining and specialty chemicals company, submitted a bid on January 15 for North American Lithium’s (NAL) assets in Québec.
The US Department of Energy, along with the Department of Commerce and the Department of Defense, put forth a letter of interest for EMC to acquire and enhance NAL’s assets for the purpose of developing a secure and reliable supply chain for lithium and rare earth elements (REEs) in North America.
The letter also states the agencies’ interest in entering into a purchase agreement with EMC and project partners, and recommends that all US departments and state and federal agencies “actively engage, expedite and facilitate mineral extraction, advanced materials qualification programs, pilot and commercial manufacturing facilities, and prioritize all requests, initiatives, projects, programs, proposals, applications and solicitations involving Evolution Metals.”
“This is a major milestone for Evolution and a strategic step for the United States,” said David Wilcox, CEO of EMC, which was formed in January of 2020 to address the critical minerals crisis.
“We believe North American Lithium has the potential to become the flagship battery- and medical-grade lithium facility in the Americas and will reduce dependence on China,” Wilcox said in a press release.
The majority of the world’s lithium ships to China to be converted into battery-ready material at state-owned refining facilities before it goes into electric vehicles and other green energy technologies.
Upgrades to NAL’s refinery would allow this conversion process to happen in North America, resulting in a shorter, cleaner and more secure supply chain for lithium that would promote regional growth of gigafactories and manufacturing, EMC said.
Under the terms of the Canada-US Joint Action Plan on Critical Minerals, products from this facility can be sold in the US as domestic.
Evolution Metals’ bid lays the framework for a partnership between Investissement Québec, an existing creditor of NAL, the US government and EMC.