Lithium Australia advances spodumene processing tech
Lithium Australia is expanding its potential lithium chemical product suite with its “LieNA” lithium processing technology transitioning from a scoping study to a more comprehensive pre-feasibility study.
LieNA is capable of processing fine spodumene feedstock into a suite of battery chemicals including lithium phosphate, hydroxide, sulphate or chloride salts from a single refinery.
According to the company, this would address the issues that conventional processors and mineral concentrate producers have with processing fine spodumene feedstocks.
The technology uses a caustic solution to convert spodumene into a lithium-bearing sodalite phase.
This sodalite is then recovered and selectively leached to produce a lithium-bearing solution that is further treated to produce a high-purity, refined tri-lithium phosphate product.
All of this is completed without the need for expensive, energy hungry roasting or the production of sodium sulphate as a by-product.
Lithium Australia Managing Director Adrian Griffin said: "The production of lithium concentrates from spodumene results in the generation of a large amount of fine spodumene that cannot be used as feed for conventional lithium 'converters’.”
“In fact, the fine material discharged as waste during the concentration process may contain up to 50% of the lithium value. Lithium Australia's LieNA technology is a sustainable processing solution capable of recovering much of the lithium from fine spodumene waste.”
"Not only does the LieNA technology provide greater sustainability, but it can also supply direct feed for the production of lithium-ferro-phosphate cathode materials, a chemistry ideally suited to energy storage applications."
LieNA’s stablemate SiLeach is designed to extract lithium from lower-grade ores and waste mica minerals whilst also dispensing with the need for expensive, energy-hungry roasting.
The company has also developed a method of refining intermediate lithium phosphate that drastically reduces the amount of potassium, sodium, sulphur and other contaminants to produce a refined product with more than 99.9% lithium phosphate content.