MONTREAL, Que., and OTTAWA, Ont.—Focus Metals Inc., today announced plans to build facilities in Quebec to purify carbon-as-graphite (Cgr) to battery-grade levels, and to manufacture lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery anodes.
Both facilities will be owned and managed by Focus Metals, and were made possible through a licensing agreement sign with IREQ, the Hydro-Quebec-owned research institute.
The purification plant will be built to produce 15,000 tonnes of spherical battery-grade flake graphite at peak, by 2015, and the anode production facility will be designed to produce up to 5,000 tons anodes per year, the company said.
Focus Metals developed a process to purify the naturally occurring 16 per cent graphite found on its Lac Knife, Que., property to 99.95 per cent, making it ideal for battery applications. It is estimated Lac Knife, which is about 35 kilometers south of Fermont, Que., contains 4.9 million tons of measured and indicated resource grading 16 per cent Cgr and three million tons of inferred resource grading 16 per cent Cgr, the company said.
The IREQ technologies involved in the licensing agreement include spherical shaping, thermal and chemical purification, and the production of Li-ion batteries.
“We believe the high-grade graphite of the Lac Knife property, associated with our graphite purification and shaping technologies, will yield a quality product for Li-ion battery applications,” Karim Zaghib, director, Energy Storage and Conversion at IREQ, in Montreal, Que., said.
Under the agreement, IREQ will provide Focus Metals with support and co-operate in future material and processing improvements. In exchange, Focus Metals will pay IREQ a licensing fee over three years, as well as royalties based on future sales.
“This agreement represents a huge and significant milestone for us as we move through pre-development to production of our Lac Knife technology graphite deposit,” Gary Economo, president of the Ottawa-based Focus Metals, said. “Moreover, the marriage of Focus’s Quebec-based, world-class graphite deposit to the Quebec-based global leader in processing technologies—especially in battery anode production—will leave Focus Metals well-positioned to secure its place as a quality supplier to the fast-growing lithium battery manufacturing sector.”
“In particular, this agreement reinforces our goal of becoming the lowest-cost graphite producer in the world,” he added.
Right now, China is the most significant producer of graphite in the world, providing nearly half of U.S. demand, according to Focus Metals. The U.S. hasn’t produced graphite for a number of years and is completely dependent on imports.