Lithium Australia eyes battery components in Germany
Lithium Australia is putting its money where its mouth is with the approval of a preliminary study into the production of lithium-ion battery components using lithium micas sourced from its wholly-owned Sadisdorf project in Germany.
Under the concept, the company will initially undertake open cut mining to extract the tin and lithium mineralisation from the Sadisdorf deposit.
The zinnwaldite mineralisation, a mica containing lithium, will then be beneficiated by conventional wet, high-intensity magnetic separation before being hydrometallurgical processed using Lithium Australia’s proprietary SiLeach process into a lithium phosphate salt.
SiLeach is a proprietary chemical process that can extract lithium from lower grade ores without the need for expensive, energy-hungry roasting.
More value will be realised by processing the cassiterite mineralisation, which contains tin, using a combination of conventional flotation and gravity separation into a saleable tin concentrate.
Lithium Australia is also considering other opportunities to further increase the value of the products from Sadisdorf such as converting the lithium phosphate into a lithium-iron-phosphate cathode precursor material using VSPC Ltd’s proprietary technology and further optimising the cassiterite and zinnwaldite beneficiation and recovery efficiency.
In addition, the company is evaluating the use of a SiLeach Generation 3 pilot-plant trial on a bulk composite sample from Sadisdorf.
This could allow Lithium Australia to produce cathode powders from locally available micas and reduce the European battery industry's reliance on imported lithium-ion battery components with a combination of low capital intensity and high margins.
Formal study planning activities will commence next month with a technical workshop in Germany.
Managing Director Adrian Griffin said: “Sadisdorf presents a significant opportunity to advance an unconventional lithium resource to the status of a strategic asset.”
“The plan is to downstream-process via our proprietary VSPC technology to produce cathode materials for lithium-ion batteries. This has the potential to provide energy security within the European renewables sector.”
“Lithium Australia is the first company in the world to produce lithium-ion batteries from the types of material available at Sadisdorf, and we look forward to advancing this operation to commercialisation.”
Sadisdorf has an inferred resource of 25 million tonnes at 0.45% lithium oxide contained in the zinnwaldite micas, which is a common alteration mineral in the halo surrounding the historical tin mines in this region of Europe.
Drilling to date has indicated the potential for a future resource upgrade.
Notably, preliminary test work conducted in 2017 already proved that SiLeach can extract lithium from the Sadisdorf micas.
The company has also successfully produced lithium-ion batteries using similar micas, which are usually considered to be waste material, in Australia.