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Lithium Australia makes batteries from mine waste

Lithium Australia has hit a major milestone with the successful production of lithium-ion battery cathode powder and lithium-ion batteries using lithium phosphate produced directly from mine waste courtesy of its proprietary “SiLeach” process.

Notably, the ground-breaking process used by the company’s wholly-owned subsidiary VSPC Ltd, does not require the production of high-purity lithium hydroxide or carbonate, which is one of the most cost intensive and challenging steps in the manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries.

Testing under a range of charge and discharge conditions has also confirmed that the lithium-ion batteries produced by this process compare very favourably to batteries built using standard lithium carbonate.

Lithium Australia recently produced a product containing between 90% and 95% lithium phosphate at its second generation SiLeach pilot plant trial at ANSTO Minerals’ facility in New South Wales.

The lithium phosphate was converted to lithium-ion-phosphate cathode material at VSPC’s electrochemical laboratory and pilot plant facility in Brisbane.

VSPC subsequently produced lithium-ion batteries that achieved equivalent performance to VSPC’s advanced cathode powders that were produced using lithium carbonate as the manufacturing feed.

The company said the ability to use mine waste in the battery production cycle can provide greater sustainability of global lithium resources.

Lithium Australia is also developing the process for direct production of cathode powders from lithium brines to reduce the requirement for evaporation ponds.

Managing Director Adrian Griffin said: “The most notable aspect of this achievement is its simplicity, and ability to streamline the processes and cost required to produce LIB cathode materials.”

“The broader application to lithium brine exploitation provides enormous potential for that part of the lithium industry, by removing the cost intensive route to lithium hydroxide – the direct use of lithium phosphate to produce cathode powders may do that.”

This latest development represents significant news for Lithium Australia shareholders who have been patiently waiting for the company to prove up its technology.

The fact that Sileach appears to work is an achievement in its own right, the fact that it appears to work using mine waste rather than valuable lithium hydroxide, represents a whole new paradigm for this creative thinking lithium specialist.

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