Tag Archives: Toyota Tsusho

Veolia to help refine lithium for Toyota Tsusho, Orocobre

Veolia says it has been selected by Toyota Tsusho and Orocobre to supply lithium refining technologies to the Naraha plant in Japan.

Veolia Water Technologies will, under an engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contract, provide a chemical processing plant featuring HPD® evaporation and crystallisation technologies designed to convert lithium carbonate into lithium hydroxide employed in the manufacturing of batteries that power electric vehicles.

The Naraha facility is designed to convert 9,500 t/y of technical-grade lithium carbonate into 10,000 t/y of purified, battery-grade lithium hydroxide.

“Driven by their joint success in supporting the rapid evolution and adoption of electric mobility, Toyota Tsusho Corporation, a global trading company in the Toyota Group, and Orocobre Ltd, an Australia-based industrial chemicals company, along with their joint venture Toyotsu Lithium Corporation awarded Veolia a comprehensive EPC contract to build a new plant in Japan,” Veolia said.

Thanks to low-cost operations and strong demand from Japanese battery makers, lithium carbonate volumes have been steadily increasing since Toyota Tsusho and Orocobre first produced lithium in 2015 at the brine-based Olaroz lithium facility, in northern Argentina, it said.

To support this growth, the joint venture made an investment decisions to raise output at Olaroz by 25,000 t/y of lithium carbonate, bringing total capacity to 42,500 t/y, with the Naraha hydroxide plant to process this increased feedstock capacity being the first of its kind in Japan.

To demonstrate the feasibility of the process design, Veolia said it successfully conducted laboratory testing and simulated key unit operations including clarification, ion exchange purification, evaporation, crystallisation, and precipitation at its Phillip J Stewart Technology Center in Plainfield, Illinois (USA).

“The results obtained from this work confirmed the design parameters, reduced the technical risks and boosted the project viability resulting in the joint venture’s decision to allocate the funds for the investment, which was also supported by a grant from the Japanese government,” Veolia said.

Jim Brown, Executive Vice President Veolia Water Technologies Americas, said: “We are pleased to be chosen by Toyota Tsusho and Orocobre to help them deliver the flagship Naraha project. This award further consolidates Veolia’s position as the preferred technology supplier of cutting-edge chemical processing solutions to global lithium producers and refiners.”

Orocobre and Toyota greenlight Olaroz lithium expansion in Argentina

Project partners Orocobre and Toyota Tsusho Corp have approved the stage-two expansion of the Olaroz lithium facility in Argentina.

The expansion, set to cost $295 million including $25 million contingency, will increase the facility’s capacity by 25,000 t/y of lithium carbonate, bringing total capacity to 42,500 t/y.

It will also see Olaroz produce technical grade (>99% Li2CO3) lithium carbonate, part of which will be used as feedstock for the proposed Naraha lithium hydroxide plant to be built in Japan.

The stage-two expansion involves construction of evaporation ponds, roads and camp upgrades, all of which have already commenced. Commissioning of both the stage-two expansion and the Naraha plant are expected in the second half of 2020.

During the development of stage two, the stage one plant will progressively migrate to 100% battery-grade lithium carbonate production, Orocobre said. Upon achievement of full production rates, the product distribution, post stage two, is expected to be:

  • 17,500 t/y of battery-grade lithium carbonate;
  • 9,500 t/y of technical-grade carbonate as feedstock for 10,000 t/y battery-grade lithium hydroxide production at the Naraha plant
  • 15,500 t/y of technical-grade lithium carbonate.

The expansion will be funded by a combination of project debt, operation cashflows and shareholder loans, Orocobre said.

Negotiations on the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for the proposed Naraha hydroxide plant were advancing rapidly between Toyota Tsusho as operator and Veolia the preferred EPC contractor, Orocobre said.

“As previously advised, the EPC contract is expected to be finalised during this quarter,” the company said.

The Olaroz lithium facility is in Jujuy Province, northern Argentina. After seven years of planning, developing, construction and commissioning, the first sale of lithium carbonate from the facility occurred in late April 2015 and volumes have been increasing since that time.

Olaroz hosts a JORC/NI 43-101 compliant measured and indicated resource of 6.4 Mt of lithium carbonate equivalent and is capable of sustaining current continuous production for 40-plus years with only circa-15% of the defined resource extracted, the company says.