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ASX-listed Vulcan Energy Resources has started commissioning of its lithium extraction optimisation plant (LEOP) in Landau at Upper Rhine Valley in Germany.

Considered to be a milestone for Vulcan, the plant will extract, purify and increase the concentration of lithium chloride from brine. This phase is said to be a major step forward for the company and its zero-carbon lithium project.

The start of the plant will enable the domestic supply independence of lithium, a critical raw material that is used in the production of electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

Vulcan stated that the commissioning phase will continue until October, which is also when the first brine will be introduced into the plant to begin the lithium extraction process.

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By GlobalData

Construction on the project began last year and was designed for optimisation, operational training and product qualification facility to provide commercial readiness by the end of 2025.

Vulcan CEO Cris Moreno said: “By 2030, Europe is likely to face a significant lithium shortage, which could have serious implications for the European battery and automotive industries if domestic supplies are not realised. Vulcan is gearing up to be the first to produce lithium from Europe, for Europe, but also to be the first company worldwide to produce carbon-neutral lithium.

“The start of the commissioning of our LEOP facility is a key step toward the implementation of phase one of our Zero Carbon Lithium™ Project, and in enabling a secure and independent European supply chain for lithium.”

The initial phase of commercial operations at the plant aims to have a production of 24,000tpa of lithium hydroxide production, which will be supplied to off-takers in Europe.

For lithium extraction from brine, Vulcan will use adsorption-type direct lithium extraction (A-DLE), which is claimed to have been commercially proven.

The method can be deployed for low operating costs, more time efficiency and reduced carbon footprint compared to legacy industry methods for producing lithium. It will be powered using renewable heat instead of gas.