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MEI Online: Commodities: Metallic Ores: Lithium: Latest News: September 9th 2019


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:: Lithium Australia's LieNA® Technology opens up Lithium Chemical Conversion Opportunities


Lithium Australia NL aims to deliver sustainable processing and production options for the lithium-ion battery ('LIB') industry while reducing the environmental footprint of that industry. The Company’s LieNA® technology, derived from several years of research and development undertaken in collaboration with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation ('ANSTO'), has recently transitioned from a scoping study to preliminary feasibility study assessment.

The Company's LieNA® technology avoids conventional high-temperature treatment (calcination) of spodumene concentrates and, unlike conventional conversion processes, is not constrained by particle feed size. Rather, it uses an alkaline source, such as caustic soda, at the temperature and pressure required to convert the mineral spodumene to a lithium-bearing sodalite phase. The sodalite is then recovered and selectively leached to produce a lithium-bearing solution that is further treated to produce a high-purity, refined tri-lithium phosphate ('LP') product.

LieNA® offers a number of advantages in terms of spodumene processing, including thefollowing.

  • The ability to process fine spodumene feed stocks, which are currently problematic for conventional convertors and mineral concentrate producers.
  • Production of high-purity battery chemicals without the need to produce sodium sulphate as a by-product, as is the case for conventional thermal spodumene converters. (It is expected that, longer-term, conventional converters will encounter issues in relation the sale or disposal of sodium sulphate as a byproduct of lithium hydroxide production.)
  • The option to produce a suite of lithium chemicals, including lithium phosphate, hydroxide, sulphate or chloride, from a single refinery.
  • Direct production of lithium-ferro-phosphate ('LFP') cathode materials from LP by way of Lithium Australia's 100% owned and patented VSPC Ltd cathode powder synthesis methods.

During a recent visit to China, the Company received enquiries for the potential supply of both LP and LFP.

Lithium Australia, through its R&D at ANSTO, has also developed a method of refining intermediate LP that results in an order of magnitude reduction in potassium, sodium, sulphur and other contaminants (as reported on 5 March 2019), with the refined product greater than 99.9 wt% LP.

Both provisional patent and Patent Cooperation Treaty applications have been lodged for LieNA® as a part of the Company’s intellectual property protection strategies.

Comment from Lithium Australia MD Adrian Griffin: "The production of lithium concentrates from spodumene results in the generation of a large amount of fine spodumene that cannot be used as feed for conventional lithium 'converters' (factories that produce lithium chemicals from spodumene). In fact, the fine material discharged as waste during the concentration process may contain up to 50% of the lithium value. Lithium Australia's LieNA® technology is a sustainable processing solution capable of recovering much of the lithium from fine spodumene waste.”

"Not only does the LieNA® technology provide greater sustainability but it can also supply direct feed for the production of LFP cathode materials, a chemistry ideally suited to energy storage applications."




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