Evaporation pools for lithium mining are seen at Salar de Uyuni, a vast white salt flat at the center of a global resource race for battery metal lithium, outside Uyuni, Bolivia, on March 26, 2022. Photo taken with a drone. REUTERS/Claudia Morales/File Photo/File Photo

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July 22 (Reuters) – Private equity firm Global Emerging Markets Group has announced plans to invest $450 million in lithium startup EnergyX, which is trying to revive its business prospects in Bolivia as it prepares to go public by 2024.

EnergyX is one of several companies developing its own version of a direct lithium mining (DLE) technology, aiming to produce the metal at a lower cost and with a smaller environmental footprint than traditional surface mining and evaporation ponds.

None of these technologies, including EnergyX’s, have worked on a commercial scale. Still, automakers and investors believe that one or more DLE technologies could ultimately boost global lithium production. Ford Motor Co (FN) signed two DLE-focused supply agreements on Thursday. Read more

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“An ESG technology-heavy company that taps into emerging markets is a rare find,” Jonathan Collins of Global Emerging Markets Group (GEM) said of EnergyX.

EnergyX will have 36 months after launching an initial public offering to tap into the $450 million that GEM has pledged. GEM will receive shares reflecting the value of EnergyX shares at the time of each drawdown. GEM will also receive warrants in EnergyX at an undisclosed exercise price.

Teague Egan, chief executive of EnergyX, said the funding would give the company a “war chest” to develop lithium projects in emerging economies.

GEM rolled out a similar investment strategy with Surf Air Mobility Group in 2020, although the electric jet company has yet to go public. It also invests in pawnshop operator Pawn Plus Inc and other companies.

EnergyX, which previously raised $15.5 million through a private funding round and crowdfunding, said Thursday it separately plans to raise up to $75 million in a private offering to investors. Retail.

Bolivian officials disqualified EnergyX from a DLE technology selection process this year after EnergyX submitted production data 10 minutes after the deadline. Egan took responsibility for the delay. Read more

Earlier this year, the company sent a shipping container full of its DLE pilot equipment from Texas to Bolivia via the Panama Canal. Read more

This meant that EnergyX was the only DLE company to have tested its technology on lithium-rich brines from Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia. Egan thinks it might help his case as he tries to convince the government to change its mind.

GEM declined to comment on EnergyX’s Bolivian bid. The South American country, which has the largest lithium reserves in the world, is expected to make a final DLE decision by December. Read more

“I absolutely think we still have a chance in Bolivia,” Egan said. “If they change their mind and want to come back to use EnergyX as a service provider or have any type of business structure, we are open to that.”

Bolivian Deputy Minister of High Energy Technologies Alvaro Arnez, who oversees lithium development in the country, did not respond to a request for comment.

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Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; additional reporting by Marcelo Rochabrun; edited by Amran Abocar and David Gregorio

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