Lithium Universe ticks environment box for Canadian refinery

Headshot of Michael Philipps
Lithium Universe has completed a site environmental survey at its proposed lithium refinery operation in Canada.
Camera IconLithium Universe has completed a site environmental survey at its proposed lithium refinery operation in Canada. Credit: File

Lithium Universe has cleared another key component in its plans to develop the proposed Bécancour lithium refinery in Canada after the successful completion of two environmental field studies at the site.

In February, the company secured a prime location for its proposed refinery after executing an option agreement to purchase a commercial property in the province of Quebec. The facility is located between Quebec City and Montreal at the Bécancour Industrial Waterfront Hub.

Management says the environmental survey found no presence of the short-eared owl in “Lot 22”, with the close proximity of the CEPSA chemical plant, railway and highway believed to make the area less attractive for the species.

The company also added that no habitat was observed for salamanders or the least bittern bird, indicating no further surveys are necessary for these species. A recent breeding bird survey did reveal the presence of chimney swifts – an at-risk bird species – but they are likely to inhabit structures away from the proposed lot.

Delineation of wetlands in the area shows they are primarily located in the northern and eastern portions of the site. Those areas are expected to be characterised as having low ecological value, although surveys will continue through the next two months.

The company has plans for a 16,000 tonnes per annum battery-grade lithium carbonate refinery in the North American nation, with heavyweight engineering firm Hatch commissioned to undertake a comprehensive study for the refinery’s design. Management says a preliminary 3D model and plot plan layout have been developed, ensuring efficient space utilisation and facilitating future modifications, if necessary.

There was nothing unexpected from our recent environmental surveys. The Becancour Industrial Park is an existing industrial complex designed to host operations like the company’s 16,000 tpa lithium carbonate refinery. This is an important step forward as we progress our plans at the Bécancour property.

Lithium Universe chairman Iggy Tan

The company’s management group has a plethora of working knowledge in developing lithium refineries, including the Jiangsu lithium carbonate refinery in China that was built by its executives Iggy Tan, Dr Jingyuan Liu and John Loxton during their time with Galaxy Resources. Tan, Liu and Loxton previously worked with Hatch on the design, construction and commissioning of the Jiangsu plant, which was subsequently sold to China’s Sichuan Tianqi Lithium in 2014 for a cool $132 million.

The relationships developed while building the Jiangsu plant are expected to benefit the company’s procurement plans for its Canadian refinery, with a focus on sourcing major equipment from the same suppliers.

Is your ASX-listed company doing something interesting? Contact: matt.birney@wanews.com.au

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