ITOCHU Announces Participation in the Production of High-purity Lithium Carbonate for Lithium-Ion Batteries in the United States

September 28, 2011

ITOCHU Corporation (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Masahiro Okafuji, President & CEO; hereinafter “ITOCHU”) announced today that it will participate in the production of high-purity lithium carbonate for lithium-ion batteries (hereinafter “LiB”) through Simbol Materials (headquartered in Pleasanton, California; Luka Erceg, CEO; hereinafter “Simbol”), a U.S. company which was partly invested by ITOCHU in June 2010. Simbol plans to begin commercial production of this high-purity lithium carbonate from October 2011 and will produce approximately 500 tons annually in an effort to ensure consistent supply.

High-purity lithium carbonate is used as a raw material for electrolyte salts (LiPF6) used in electrolyte solution, one of the main component for LiB. It is used in LiB for electric cars, a demand for which is expected to grow rapidly in the near future, as well as in stationary rechargeable batteries and in clean energy. Currently, only a few manufacturers worldwide are capable of consistently making and supplying high-purity lithium carbonate. Simbol who is currently in a development stage to produce lithium chemicals from a geothermal brine located in southern California will become the world’s only manufacturer that will be capable of making high-purity lithium carbonate from raw materials through consistent process. Aiming to expand the market for LiB, Simbol plans to have a capacity to produce 2,000 tons annually by the end of 2012. By utilizing the company’s competitive source of raw materials, Simbol will seek to expand its share of the market for high-purity lithium carbonate.

Simbol will be the first of its kind to manufacture lithium chemicals using geothermal brine located in southern California. By extracting the lithium from this geothermal brine, Simbol has succeeded in developing a technology to produce the world’s most competitive lithium chemicals. Simbol has been focusing on an eco-friendly operation with reduced CO2 emissions, at the same time taking advantage of utilizing carbon dioxide, heat and steam source, and other unique characteristics of the geothermal system.

In June 2010, ITOCHU has acquired marketing rights in Asia, including Japan, China, South Korea, etc., for the lithium chemicals produced by Simbol, and in June 2011, ITOCHU received a debt finance from the Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC).

Simbol Corporate Profile

Corporate name Simbol Materials
Head office Pleasanton, California, U.S.A.
Representative Luka Erceg
Established February 2007