Lithium Australia’s patent application for its second generation “LieNA” lithium processing technology received a boost this week after the International Preliminary Examining Authority said its technology was “novel”, “inventive” and “industrially applicable”, all of which are precursors required to progress the patent application and seek legal protection in selected jurisdictions. LieNA recovers lithium from fine and variable grade spodumene that may otherwise report to waste.
Lithium Australia’s patent application for its second generation “LieNA” lithium processing technology received a boost this week after the International Preliminary Examining Authority or “IPEA” said its technology was “novel”, “inventive” and “industrially applicable”.
The IPEA endorsement means that Lithium Australia’s patent application can now progress and the Perth-based company may soon be able to seek legal protection in selected jurisdictions. LieNA recovers lithium from fine and variable grade spodumene that may otherwise report to waste or tailings.
Lithium Australia said the endorsement from IPEA means the patent application will now progress to the ‘National Phase’ in selected jurisdictions where Lithium Australia will seek legal protection for LieNA.
The Perth-based, hard-rock lithium industry disruptor already has protection from IP Australia for its proprietary LieNA technology, guaranteeing up to 20 years of patent protection relating to its first-generation “LieNA” lithium processing technology.
LieNA takes fine lithium spodumene ore and concentrates it by up to and even greater than 85%. Traditional recovery methods are currently as low as 50%, with the rest going to waste, according to Lithium Australia.
The company is not only aiming to convert a waste product into a valuable high-purity by-product, but it is also looking to significantly reduce the input energy required for the lithium beneficiation process. LieNA uses a relatively cheaper alkaline chemical concentration process, rather than more traditional, expensive, energy intensive roasting or calcination processes.
The utilisation of waste from conventional hard-rock spodumene benefaction by the minerals processing industry is an opportunity that other companies across a range of minerals are currently pursuing.
After extensive testwork, the company said it is now confident it can commit to a semi-continuous pilot-plant evaluation of the flowsheet for its second generation LieNA technology, utilising Federal Government funds secured under the CRC-P grants initiative.
Lithium Australia Managing Director Adrian Griffin said: "Further recognition of Lithium Australia’s 100%-owned LieNA® technology by the International Preliminary Examining Authority has followed close on the heels of the federal government’s grant to the Company for the construction of a pilot plant that will advance the process towards commercialisation.”
“Recovering material that would otherwise go to waste is a fundamental building block in Lithium Australia’s quest to enhance sustainability, reduce costs and negate environmental impacts throughout the battery production cycle. If we as a society want to maintain current living standards, we cannot afford to squander resources and need to minimise out environmental footprint. Commercialisation of LieNA® will take the lithium industry one step closer to achieving that goal.”
With the green, global push towards a burgeoning 21st century electric vehicle market picking up pace, having access to patent-protected processing technologies such as this one will become more and more valuable to Lithium Australia over time.
It may also be attractive to hard-rock lithium miners looking to flash their own green credentials.
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