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Lithium Australia to supply cathode materials by July

Lithium Australia is set to begin production in July of some of the world’s most advanced lithium-ion battery cathode materials after recommissioning the facilities of its newly acquired Very Small Particle Company.

The ASX-listed company completed its acquisition of the VSPC in February as part of a bold strategy to create a vertically integrated lithium processing business with operations from lithium mining right through to battery recycling.

Brisbane-based VSPC spent 14 years and approximately A$30 million developing some of the world’s most advanced manufacturing techniques for the production of lithium-ion battery cathode materials.

The VSPC facility includes a 2 to 4 tonne per annum pilot plant, an integrated laboratory, coin-cell production facility and battery-testing equipment.

Lithium Australia has been fast-tracking the recommissioning of the cathode materials plant since the acquisition was completed. A recruitment drive has begun to attract senior scientists and operating staff and service agreements have been arranged with universities to support the technical demands of the project.

Lithium Australia Managing Director, Adrian Griffin, said: “Recommissioning the VSPC pilot plant is a challenging task, but many of the past scientific and operating staff have made themselves available to ensure success. We welcome their assistance and participation in our plan to provide the world’s battery producers with the best available cathode materials.” 

The company’s acquisition of leading-edge cathode materials technology has been exquisitely timed. Global demand for lithium batteries is taking off with the electric vehicle revolution and the rise of energy storage solutions using renewable energy. There is also increasing interest by battery and vehicle manufacturers in new materials that increase energy density and battery performance.

Lithium Australia is also racing towards production of lithium battery chemicals using its innovative SiLeach process, which allows low-cost extraction of lithium from lower-grade deposits and waste material.

In February, the company committed to building a large-scale pilot plant capable of producing 2,500 tonnes of lithium carbonate per annum. Front end engineering and design studies are underway, with first production scheduled for 2021.

The company is well on its way towards “closing the loop” by creating an end-to-end lithium business that can do everything from explore for the mineral to processing to battery component manufacturing. 

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