Canadian companies to use Czech manganese for Li-ion battery cathode materials

Chvaletice manganese project area. (Image courtesy of Euro Manganese).

Canadian companies Nano One Materials (TSX: NANO) and Euro Manganese (TSX-V, ASX: EMN) have joined forces to develop what they call “economically viable and environmentally sustainable” applications of high-purity manganese. 

In detail, the firms have entered into a joint development agreement under which Euro Manganese will develop manganese products for use in cathode materials made by Nano One.

The metal is to be sourced at the miner’s proposed Chvaletice manganese project, located in the Czech Republic, approximately 90 kilometres east of Prague. The plan is to reprocess the resource contained in three adjacent flotation tailings piles that were emplaced on flat terrain immediately below the site of a flotation mill site, adjacent to the former Chvaletice open-pit pyrite mine.

The tailings consist of sandy to fine greyish material containing approximately 7.3% manganese, mostly occurring as rhodochrosite and kutnohorite, two mineral forms of manganese carbonate. From that resource, ultra-high-purity manganese products can be manufactured. 

The products are to be evaluated by Nano One in the formation of its cathode materials including lithium nickel manganese oxide (LNMO) and nickel rich lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC).

In a press release, the companies said that LNMO and NMC materials will be prepared using Nano One’s patented One-Pot process, coated nanocrystal powders and M2CAM technology – which is metal direct to cathode active material -, thus enabling the use of sulphate-free metals and lithium carbonate as low-cost and environmentally sustainable feedstocks.

The partners believe that LNMO, also known as high voltage spinel, and NMC both have great potential in conventional and solid-state battery applications for electric vehicles, renewable energy storage and consumer electronic devices. This is because LNMO delivers energy and power on par with NMC and is more cost-effective because it is manganese-rich, cobalt-free, low in nickel and does not require excess lithium. LNMO also operates at a voltage that is 25% higher than commercial high-nickel cathodes, which – the companies say – translates into fewer cells, improved productivity, efficiency, thermal management, and power.

“Nano One has ambitious plans to be a major participant in the battery-driven transformation of mobility and renewable energy storage, and we are doing so by changing how the world makes cathode materials,” Nano One CEO, Dan Blondal, said in the media brief. “Our LNMO is unique, differentiated and well-positioned to address the automotive industry’s recent interest in manganese-rich batteries and our coated nanocrystal NMC is targeting demand for increased durability in long-range battery applications. Manganese plays a critical role in both chemistries and we are aligned with Euro Manganese in developing low-cost high-performance cathode materials with a differentiated and environmentally sustainable supply chain.”

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