ITOCHU Takes Equity Stake in Lithium Resources Development Company in the United States
July 5, 2010
ITOCHU Corporation (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Masahiro Okafuji, President & CEO; hereinafter “ITOCHU”) has recently made an investment into Simbol Mining Corp. (headquartered in California; Luka Erceg, CEO; hereinafter “Simbol”), a company commercializing lithium chemical production in the USA, to achieve its target in securing lithium resources which are widely expected for its growth in the LiB industry, particularly for HEV’s and EV’s. Simbol is located in the State of California and has developed a technology for extracting lithium from geothermal brines located in the Southern California. Simbol is currently undergoing developments in the production technology and is planning commercial production to meet market needs in the near future.
The company will become the first ever known producer of lithium chemicals using geothermal brines. The brine located in this region of Southern California is unique because of its high content of lithium. Simbol has made tremendous progress and progress in developing a technology to extract lithium from this brine at a cost that will be competitive with today’s lowest cost producers. Simbol is pursuing an environmentally friendly production process that not only enables competitive production of lithium chemicals but also reduces its carbon footprint by its own process using the unique advantages found in geothermal resources.
Simbol’s annual production volume is planned at approximately 3,000mt (equivalent to approximately 16,000mt in LCE). As the production time from brine to final product is not dependent upon the slow process of solar evaporation, and Simbol will be able to easily increase its capacity and output to meet industry demand. In the future, Simbol expects to increase current world lithium production capacity of 23,000mt by half, adding 12,000mt of lithium production for anticipated demand in the EV and HEV industry. Simbol is expected to be an important supplier of lithium in such growing markets.
Simbol began with an initial spin out of technology from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 2007. Simbol has concentrated on developing technology to extract lithium from geothermal brines and the company has been able to achieve its targets. ITOCHU and Simbol have formed an important strategic partnership to bring quality lithium products to the marketplace. Simbol’s current major shareholders include Mohr Davidow Ventures, Firelake Capital Management, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and other notable venture capital firms and investors.
ITOCHU has obtained sole marketing rights to distribute Simbol’s lithium chemical products in Asian Countries including Japan, China and Korea. ITOCHU is also considering applying for a debt facility from a governmental firm, JOGMEC (Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation), who has already made visits to Simbol for an assessment of its technology.
In its Frontiere 2010 medium-term management plan, ITOCHU emphasized environmental and new energy business, with a particular focus on battery storage. These efforts include investments in ENER1 Inc.(with EnerDel as its subsidiary manufacturing LiB), as well as investments with Toda Kogyo for producing cathode & precursor materials for LiB in North America. By making this investment into Simbol, ITOCHU will accelerate its value-chain portfolio from the industry up-stream towards down-stream including LiB and its other components.
About Simbol Mining Corp.
|Company Name||Simbol Mining Corporation|
|Registered Head Office||Pleasanton, Ca., U.S.A.|
|President and CEO||Luka Erceg|