Lithium Universe’s Bécancour refinery site successfully navigates key environmental studies

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By Colin Hay - 
Lithium Universe ASX LU7 environmental studies Becancourt refinery

Lithium Universe (ASX: LU7) has reached another milestone at its Bécancour project site, a key component of its lithium conversion gap strategy in Canada.

The company has successfully completed two in-depth environmental field studies at its proposed refinery site located in the Bécancour Waterfront Industrial Park (BWIP) in Québec.

A highlight of the studies was the confirmation that there are no short-eared owls present in the area, a species considered of concern locally.

Lithium Universe believes the site’s proximity to a chemical plant, railway and highway likely makes it less attractive for this species.

No surprises

Chair Iggy Tan said there was nothing unexpected from the recent environmental surveys.

“The BWIP is an existing industrial complex designed to host operations like the company’s 16,000 tonnes per annum lithium carbonate refinery,” he said.

“Wetland surveys will continue through June and July.”

“This is an important step forward as we progress our plans at the Bécancour property.”

Key pillar

The Bécancour lithium refinery project is a key pillar in Lithium Universe’s strategy to address the lithium conversion gap issue that has affected North American plans to become a significant clean energy project location.

The company believes the issue lies in the scarcity of independent lithium converters planned for construction in North America, potentially stemming from a lack of expertise or a series of recent failures and delayed start-ups in the sector.

With that in mind, Lithium Universe is developing a flexible processing option at Bécancour.

Lithium Universe’s strategy involves the creation of a downstream standalone lithium refinery designed to process spodumene feedstock from any part of the world.

Samples from Australia, Brazil and Africa featuring various lithium grades have been collected and undergone metallurgical laboratory processing in the company’s contracted laboratory—with positive results already achieved.

DFS progress

Lithium Universe continues to advance its refinery plans, which are currently the focus of a definitive feasibility study (DFS).

Engineering contractor Hatch, which is managing the engineering study, has already completed a number of critical elements including the finalisation of the documentation of flow sheets and stream tables.

Mr Tan said these documents are crucial for managing material and energy flow through the refinery, detailing the processing steps and the interconnections between various units within the plant.

Preliminary layout

A preliminary 3D model and plot plan layout have also been developed, providing a comprehensive visual and spatial understanding of the refinery’s design.

It visualises the placement of equipment and infrastructure, ensuring efficient space utilisation and facilitating future modifications if necessary.

Mr Tan is confident that, with more than 20 large-scale battery manufacturers on the east coast of North America and spodumene as the preferred feedstock, Québec is poised to become a driving force in the emerging electric vehicle battery ecosystem in North America.