Lithium Australia plans to continue research its proprietary recovery process to extract lithium from fine and contaminated waste materials after being awarded a Federal Government grant of $1.3m. The company has also applied for a patent over the intellectual property from its research into the recovery of lithium from fine spodumene waste and tailings ore. The funds will advance the technology that has ramifications for the hard-rock lithium industry.
Lithium Australia will have the whip cracking in the lab as it continues with research into its proprietary lithium recovery process to extract lithium from fine waste and tailings materials after being awarded a Federal Government grant of $1.3m.
According to the company, conventional lithium processing technology can see up to 50% of the lithium end up in waste or tailings and Lithium Australia is looking to commercialise these “waste” streams with its LieNA processing technology that can liberate the lithium from the waste.
LieNA is a proprietary caustic digestion process that is followed by leaching to recover lithium from the fine spodumene in waste or tailing streams.
The company said it has applied for a patent over the intellectual property from its LieNA technology that does away with the need for expensive, energy hungry “roasting” of the ore in favour of a chemical based process.
The company said it has been able to produce a lithium recovery rate of more than 85% to-date using LieNA.
Lithium Australia is working with a group of researchers and companies under the $3.6m research and development program into the recovery of lithium from fine spodumene.
Other groups in the research and development team include the Murdoch and Curtin Universities in Perth, Pioneer Resources, ALS Metallurgy, Carnac Project Delivery Services and Lithium Australia’s own subsidiary, VSPC.
The Federal Government grants are being deployed under round eight of its Co-operative Research Centre Projects initiative that targets ‘critical minerals’. This is the second successful federal grant award to be announced this week by Lithium Australia as it works to commercialise its revolutionary processing technology.
Lithium Australia announced just two days ago that its subsidiary, VSPC, was to receive a $1.6m grant as part of a separate $5m, Federally-funded research program to develop fast-charging lithium-ion batteries for new generation trams with a view to eliminating overhead wires.
VSPC will be joined in that research effort by Australia’s CSIRO, the University of Queensland and Soluna Australia. VSPC, or the “Very Small Particle Company”, is a leader in the lithium battery cathode powder field.
When announcing the successful grant recipients on the 9th of February, the Hon. Karen Andrews MP, Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology said the Federal Government funding aims to promote the development of critical minerals and cement Australia’s position as a critical minerals powerhouse to grow the economy and create new jobs.
Lithium Australia Managing Director, Adrian Griffin said: “LieNA® has the potential to commercially recover lithium from fine and contaminated material discharged to tailings by the spodumene producers that currently achieve poor recoveries. If LieNA® can improve the viability of hard-rock lithium mining operations, its effects will be far-reaching.”
“We applaud the federal government for recognizing the significance of this project and welcome input from lithium producers who could benefit from a positive outcome for this research. We appreciate the considerable contributions our partners will make and the expertise they can provide.”
Lithium Australia is eking out a spot for itself at the epi-centre of the lithium market. Whether its exploration ground, processing technology, recycling technology or battery manufacturing, Lithium Australia seems to have a foot in the market and in some cases both feet.
With a wave of global Government’s and car manufacturers taking the electric vehicle route now, the company appears to have a well mapped path for the future.
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