Waste & Resource Recovery

Lithium Australia’s mine waste to lithium ion battery strategy becoming a reality

Lithium Australia has successfully created a very pure product that is suitable for the direct generation of lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) powders for the production of lithium-ion batteries. The pure product was made from a refined lithium phosphate generated by its SiLeach Gen-2 pilot plant.

The company’s production of lithium-ion batteries using lithium phosphate generated direct from mine waste was first revealed in November 2018.

Now, further refining of the lithium phosphate by way of a simple proprietary process has reduced the concentrations of impurities such as potassium, sodium and sulphur by orders of magnitude, providing scope to further improve battery performance.

The new lithium phosphate refining stage fits seamlessly into the company’s SiLeach process, developed to capitalise on the abundance of lithium micas.

Notably, the latest refining process paves the way for the production of very high-purity cathodes, while bypassing the supply restrictions of lithium carbonates and hydroxides.

According to Adrian Griffin, Lithium Australia’s managing director, process efficiency is the key to cost reduction in the battery industry.

“We have hit the nail on the head by using waste material as feed, and by reducing the number of processing steps required to produce high-quality battery components,” Griffin said.

“Collaborative development with our technology partner ANSTO Minerals continues to deliver outstanding results for the company. Our processing technologies also have great potential for the lithium brine industry, and we look forward to collaboration in that sector.”

Lithium Australia aspires to close the loop on the energy-metal cycle. The company has a portfolio of projects and alliances and developed innovative extraction processes to convert all lithium silicates (including mine waste) to lithium chemicals.