Sicona enters the European battery market through the proposed Joint Venture with leading materials in Sweden
SYDNEY, October 10, 2021 / PRNewswire / -Sicona Battery Technologies Pty Ltd (“Sicona”), a pioneering battery material technology company, has entered into a non-binding agreement with (100% owned Swedish subsidiaries of TSX-V listed) Leading Edge Materials Corp. (“Leading Edge Materials”).
HoA indicates the path for the establishment of a Sweden based 50/50 Joint Venture (“JV”) which focuses on the production of advanced natural graphite and silicon-graphite-carbon composite active anode materials with natural graphite from the Woxna Graphite mine as a raw material to offer the European lithium-ion battery manufacturing industry a safe and sustainable delivery of high-performance anode materials.
JV is a direct fit for the fully built and permitted Woxna Graphite mine in Sweden and plans for a vertically integrated production from mine to active anode materials using a low carbon footprint thermal purification process, as recently reported in a Preliminary economic assessment study published by Leading Edge Materials (see Leading Edge Materail’s press releases dated June 9, 2021 and July 26, 2021).
Sicona believes that the existing Woxna mine and developed downstream processes together with Sicona’s innovative technology provide the opportunity to deliver a safe and sustainable supply of high-performance battery materials for the European battery industry. Sicona commercializes innovative silicon-graphite-carbon composite battery anode and binder process technology and materials, developed and perfected over the past ten years at Australian Institute for Innovative Materials (AIIM) at the University of Wollongong.
Sicona’s current generation of silicon-graphite composite anode materials delivers 50% to 100% higher capacity than conventional “graphite-only” materials and as a result, its cellular customers can unlock more than 50% higher cellular energy density than current Li-ion batteries thereby increasing the range of electric cars at the same time as the cost and time it takes to charge decreases.
The global lithium battery capacity is growing rapidly with more than 4TWh (equivalent to 4,000 gigawatt factories) of advertised cell production requiring more than 4,000,000 tons of anode material per year.
Due to the improved storage capacity, silicon graphite composite anode materials attract higher selling prices,>US $ 15,000 per ton, compared to conventional graphite anode materials between $ 7,000 and US $ 15,000 per ton. However, due to the higher capacity of silicon graphite composites, the cost per capacity unit ($ / KWh) will be lower for battery cell manufacturers, which will drive increased interest in switching to these materials in the future.
HoA lays out certain work packages with the ultimate goal of being Sweden based advanced anode material production plant targeting an annual production of up to 20,000 tons per year of several active anode material products using Woxna graphite raw material and other complementary suitable raw materials such as external silicon and other carbon or graphite materials using Sicona’s significant own IP and know – how.
Key points for JV according to the plan in HoA;
- The establishment of a Swedish company owned 50/50 by Sicona and Leading Edge Materials to run JV from Sweden;
- Construction, financing and launch of a 500 tonne commercial demonstration plant per year, stage 1 at a suitable site from the Woxna Graphite mine to produce several active anode material products for advanced customer qualification tests;
- Appropriate feasibility study for a 7,000 to 20,000 tonne per year full-scale commercial production facility;
- Financing, construction and operation of a full-scale commercial production facility;
- Leading Edge Materials 100% owned subsidiary Woxna Graphite AB to enter into an agreement with JV to sell its entire graphite concentrate production on a graphite-related all on a cost basis plus a margin of 30%, with a price cap corresponding to an appropriate reference value for graphite prices minus 15% (“Agreement Agreement”);
- JV shall be granted a non-exclusive, non-transferable, non-sublicensable license for Siconas IP for the production of carbon-coated graphite-based and silicon-graphite-carbon-based active anode materials (the “License Agreements”);
- JV to maintain exclusivity over IP in Sweden, with additional timelines proposed to ban IP licensing within Europe to other parties; and
- A twelve-month exclusivity period during which the parties are prohibited from requesting alternative transactions to the proposed JV and must trade exclusively with each other (the “exclusivity clause”).
The establishment of JV is subject to Sicona and Leading Edge Materials entering into a definitively binding joint venture agreement that governs the Swedish JV company (“Definitive Joint Venture Agreement”, and together with the off-take agreement and the license agreements, “Definitive Agreements” ), off-take and licensing agreements and completion of satisfactory due diligence and receipt of all necessary board and regulatory approvals
Sicona founder and CEO, Christiaan Jordaan sa “From our Australian base, Sicona has focused on distributing commercial production facilities in Europe and North America and this proposed joint venture with Leading Edge Materials is an important step in achieving these goals.
We are very happy to be involved in the next step in the project development with Filip and his team at Leading Edge Materials. It supports Sicona’s value proposition in vertically integrating local supply chain projects to produce the next generation of end anode materials. The two companies share the same goals and values in the sustainable development of better performing anodes and disrupt the control of Asian controlled supply chains with local European manufactured anode material products.
Our work has already shown that Woxna’s thermally purified natural graphite exceeded similar tests using natural graphite reference material, which bodes well for our planned next stages of work with Leading Edge.
The formalization of this JV enables Sicona and Leading Edge to commercialize our coating processes and techniques, where Woxna’s spherical purified graphite and Sicona’s carbon coating technology have shown excellent results in producing a conventional natural graphite active anode material, providing 98% capacity retention after 500 cycles.
In addition, Woxna’s own unoptimized experiments with spherically purified graphite to produce silicon-graphite-carbon composite anode materials have yielded promising results in initial cell tests. The test results showed an excellent initial capacity of ~ 700mAh / g, which is more than 90% higher than conventional graphite anode materials. “
Filip Kozlowski, Says CEO of Leading Edge Materials “The possibility of combining the thermally purified spherical natural graphite from Woxna with Sicona’s silicon-graphite-carbon composite technology for the production of high-performance next-generation anode materials is obvious.
We believe that we are moving towards a formal joint venture and the establishment of a commercial demonstration plant in the first stage to produce 500 tonnes per year of various anode materials will show the quality of our products to potential customers in Europe. “
The announced lithium-ion battery’s production capacity recently exceeded 1000 GWh, which translates to approximately 1,000,000 tonnes per year of anode material requirements Europe alone. This potential joint venture with Sicona puts Leading Edge Materials in an even stronger position to address this huge addressable market opportunity. I look forward to working with Christiaan and his skilled technical team to further develop this opportunity.
Sicona develops the next generation of battery material technology used in anodes (negative electrodes) for lithium-ion batteries (“Li-ion”) that enable electrical mobility and storage of renewable energy. Sicona commercializes an innovative silicon composite battery anode technology, developed and perfected over the past ten years at the Australian Institute for Innovative Materials (AIIM). Sicona’s current generation silicon composite anode technology delivers 50% to 100% higher capacity than conventional graphite anodes and its anode material can deliver more than 50% higher cell energy density than current Li-ion batteries.
In addition, Sicona has developed a water-based binder that has a 3D network structure, improved electro-conductivity and self-healing properties that significantly increase the cycle of the next generation of anodes.
Sicona uses the off-the-shelf equipment in a highly scalable and efficient manufacturing process to produce its active anode materials and polymeric binders.
Sicona intends to produce and sell high-performance active anodes and binders to the rapidly growing global battery market through a focused partnership with established and reputable partner companies in supply chains.
About leading edge material
Leading Edge Materials is a Canadian public company that focuses on developing a portfolio of critical raw material projects in the EU. Critical raw materials are determined as such by the European Union on the basis of their economic significance and delivery risk. They are directly linked to high-tech technologies such as batteries for electromobility and energy storage and permanent magnets for electric motors and wind power that form the basis for the clean energy transition to climate neutrality. The project portfolio includes the 100% owned Woxna Graphite mine (Sweden), Norra Karr HREE project (Sweden) and the 51% owned Bihor Sud Nickel Cobalt Exploration Alliance (Romania).
 JP Morgan, Battery Node Material, June 10, 2021
 Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, 2021
 Coin cell testing. Cycling at 0.3C, formation cycling at C / 20
 CIC ENERGYGUNE, September 2021
SOURCE Sicona Battery Technologies