Nodules to Battery Metals
- India’s leading producer of graphite materials for lithium-ion battery anodes with ambitions to enter cathode material production, Epsilon Carbon intends to deliver a pre-feasibility report for a plant in India powered by renewables and with the targeted processing capacity of 1.3 million tonnes per annum of wet nodules
- Epsilon Carbon expects to draw on The Metals Company’s near-zero solid waste flowsheet developments and pilot plant program results as well as its own operational experience of building greenfield plants in India to establish the pre-feasibility and business case for a nodule processing plant in India
- Subject to the outcome of the pre-feasibility report and execution of commercial agreements with TMC, Epsilon Carbon intends to finance, engineer, permit, build and operate a commercial scale plant in India to process polymetallic nodules from the NORI-D area of the Clarion Clipperton Zone of the Pacific Ocean
NEW YORK, March 17, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — TMC, The Metals Company Inc. (Nasdaq: TMC) (“TMC”) today announced that it has signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (“MoU”) with Epsilon Carbon Pvt. Ltd. (“Epsilon Carbon”) to complete a pre-feasibility study for a commercial-scale deep-sea nodule processing plant in India with targeted production capacity of more than 30,000 tonnes per annum (TPA) of an intermediate nickel-copper-cobalt matte product used for active cathode material (CAM) for Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC) and other nickel-rich cathode chemistries for lithium-ion batteries and more than 750,000 TPA of manganese silicate by-product expected to be used in manganese alloy production for the steel industry (“Project Zero Plant”).
TMC and Epsilon Carbon envision a long-term partnership: TMC, through its subsidiaries, intends to supply polymetallic nodules and onshore processing expertise; Epsilon Carbon intends to finance, engineer, permit, build and operate the Project Zero Plant. TMC has shared with Epsilon Carbon the near-zero solid waste processing flowsheet developed together with Canadian technology and engineering firms between 2018 and 2021 and technical results from a pilot plant program completed in 2021 at FLSmidth’s facilities in Whitehall, PA, USA, and at eXpert Processing Solutions’ (XPS) facilities in Sudbury, ON, Canada. Epsilon Carbon intends to deliver a pre-feasibility report (“PFR”) for a plant in India powered by renewables and with the targeted processing capacity of 1.3 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) of wet nodules and production start in time to receive nodules collected from NORI-D area starting around Q4 2024, provided, that TMC’s subsidiary NORI secures an exploitation contract from the International Seabed Authority. It is anticipated that TMC and Epsilon Carbon will enter a binding Heads of Terms for construction and operations of Project Zero Plant by September 30, 2022.
TMC and Epsilon Carbon have both agreed not to enter into any binding agreements with third parties for the construction and operation of a processing plant for polymetallic nodules through the earlier of TMC and Epsilon Carbon entering into binding Heads of Terms contemplated in the MoU or March 31, 2023.
Gerard Barron, Chairman and CEO of TMC commented: “Over the last three years, we have engaged with many parties and visited plants around the world in search of the right onshore partners. In Epsilon Carbon, we have found a rare mix: a proven operational execution track record in anode materials, a 21st century approach to industrial development grounded in making use of waste products, deep care about safety, environmental and social impacts, and an entrepreneurial ambition to develop cathode precursor materials. We could not be more excited about partnering with the Epsilon Carbon team and the prospect of locating our first plant in India, the world’s largest democracy and home to 20% of the world’s population with robust development-led demand for the raw materials that can be derived from polymetallic nodules. Prime Minister Modi’s allocation last year of $600 million for India’s ‘Deep Ocean Mission and the development of a polymetallic nodule collection system shows the country’s commitment to this new, abundant, secure, lower-cost and lower-ESG-impact potential source of critical metals.”
Vikram Handa, founder of Epsilon Carbon, added: “Having developed technology to tap an unconventional source of graphite — a waste stream from steel manufacturing — we are rapidly growing our anode materials’ business in India and establishing a new plant in Finland. Our strategy is to expand into cathode materials by 2024. TMC’s polymetallic nodule resource struck us as a game-changing opportunity to tap another unconventional resource with several intrinsic properties that potentially allow us to develop a cathode precursor materials business with a much lower environmental and social impact. We have started with a PFR for a relatively small-scale plant but we believe that the scale of TMC’s resource has the potential to turn India into a significant supplier of critical minerals for battery and steel industries.”
About The Metals Company
The Metals Company is an explorer of lower-impact battery metals from seafloor polymetallic nodules, on a dual mission: (1) supply metals for the clean energy transition with the least possible negative environmental and social impact and (2) accelerate the transition to a circular metal economy. The company through its subsidiaries holds exploration and commercial rights to three polymetallic nodule contract areas in the Clarion Clipperton Zone of the Pacific Ocean regulated by the International Seabed Authority and sponsored by the governments of Nauru, Kiribati and the Kingdom of Tonga. More information about The Metals Company is available at www.metals.co.
About Epsilon Group
Epsilon Carbon Pvt Ltd is a leading manufacturer of coal tar derivatives and India’s only backward-integrated company with a long term exclusive raw materials purchase agreement with JSW Steel. Epsilon Carbon entered the lithium-ion battery materials value chain in 2018 with the vision to develop and manufacture innovative, high performance and quality carbon products for anode components of lithium-ion batteries by founding a dedicated subsidiary Epsilon Advanced Materials Pvt. Ltd. The subsidiary is currently focused on the production of synthetic flake graphite, a precursor material used in battery anodes. To complement their proprietary anode technology, Epsilon Carbon aims to produce cathode materials in India by 2024. More information about Epsilon Carbon is available at https://www.epsiloncarbon.com/
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Forward Looking Statements
Certain statements made in this press release are not historical facts but are forward-looking statements for purposes of the safe harbor provisions under The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements generally are accompanied by words such as “believe,” “may,” “will,” “estimate,” “continue,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “expect,” “should,” “would,” “plan,” “predict,” “potential,” “seem,” “seek,” “future,” “outlook” and similar expressions that predict or indicate future events or trends or that are not statements of historical matters. These forward-looking statements involve significant risks and uncertainties that could cause the actual results to differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements. Most of these factors are outside TMC’s control and are difficult to predict. Factors that may cause such differences include, but are not limited to: TMC’s ability to enter into definitive agreement(s) with Epsilon to construct, operate and supply the potential processing plant in India on terms and conditionals substantially similar to those set forth in the non-binding MoU; the successful completion of the PFR; TMC’s ability to obtain exploitation contracts for its areas in the CCZ; TMC and Epsilon’s ability to secure binding offtake arrangements for the proposed plant’s production on acceptable terms and in sufficient quantities; regulatory uncertainties and the impact of government regulation and political instability on TMC’s resource activities; changes to any of the laws, rules, regulations or policies to which TMC is subject; the impact of extensive and costly environmental requirements on TMC’s operations; environmental liabilities; the impact of polymetallic nodule collection on biodiversity in the CCZ and recovery rates of impacted ecosystems; TMC’s ability to develop minerals in sufficient grade or quantities to justify commercial operations; the lack of development of seafloor polymetallic nodule deposit; uncertainty in the estimates for mineral resource calculations from certain contract areas and for the grade and quality of polymetallic nodule deposits; risks associated with natural hazards; uncertainty with respect to the specialized treatment and processing of polymetallic nodules that TMC may recover; risks associated with collective, development and processing operations, including the successful permitting, completion and operation of the proposed plant in India; fluctuations in transportation costs; testing and manufacturing of equipment; risks associated with TMC’s limited operating history; the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic; risks associated with TMC’s intellectual property; and other risks and uncertainties, including those under Item 1A “Risk Factors” in TMC’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2021, filed by TMC with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) on November 15, 2021, and in TMC’s other future filings with the SEC. TMC cautions that the foregoing list of factors is not exclusive. TMC cautions readers not to place undue reliance upon any forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date made. TMC does not undertake or accept any obligation or undertaking to release publicly any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statements to reflect any change in its expectations or any change in events, conditions, or circumstances on which any such statement is based except as required by law.
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