Lithium Australia patents new lithium processing tech
ASX listed Lithium Australia will file two additional patents over its chemical based SiLeach lithium extraction process to lock up the process of recovering lithium without extensive evaporation.
The technology enhancements will reduce capital and operating costs associated with managing the water balance of lithium recoveries from the process liquors while improving the quality of the lithium chemicals and potassium by-products that SiLeach generates.
The new process steps are the result of Lithium Australia's ongoing technical partnership with ANSTO Minerals and will further refine its plans to commercialise SiLeach, which includes development of a large scale pilot plant.
“Lithium Australia will expedite commercialisation of the SiLeach® process, capitalising on the advantages gained by solving this processing challenge. Being able to produce lithium chemicals without the necessity of evaporating large quantities of water clearly puts us ahead of our peers."
The pilot plant is being designed to produce 2,500 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent per annum and is a key step along the decision making journey towards building a full-scale plant that is capable of producing 10 times this amount using the innovative SiLeach process.
In April, the company filed a patent covering an improvement in the SiLeach flow sheet that could significantly increase lithium recoveries from low-grade, waste mica ores.
Recoveries are now expected to average more than 86%, compared to previously reported results of 82.8%, which could potentially reduce capital costs in several unit processes within the proposed pilot plant.
SiLeach is ideally suited to processing low grade lithium micas, considered a waste product in many mining operations, into cost-competitive sources of battery grade lithium chemicals.
Whilst traditional lithium processors use energy hungry roasting to produce battery grade chemicals from lithium mineralisation, Sileach uses a proprietary chemical reaction to do the same thing without the requirement for expensive roasting.
Additionally, the company expects SiLeach to revive the mothballed Sadisdorf lithium and tin deposit in Germany, potentially providing an opportunity to economically recover lithium, tin and other by-products at that project.