Lithium Australia announces plans for research grant funding

Photo: Lithium Australia

Lithium Australia was awarded a $1.3 million federal government grant to support the next stage of its $3.6 million LieNA research and development (R&D) programme for the recovery of lithium from fine spodumene.

While the recovery rate of lithium from current spodumene concentration processes varies, it can be as low as 50 per cent, Lithium Australia’s LieNA process is able to recover lithium from the fine spodumene in waste or tailings streams from such concentration processes.

Lithium Australia and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) have completed extensive bench-scale test work on the LieNA technology, with final recovery of lithium reported as more than 85 per cent.

The developer of lithium extraction technologies says that the LieNA R&D program will provide a pathway to commercialisation of LieNA, its revolutionary processing technology for the recovery of lithium from spodumene.

Lithium Australia considers LieNA a novel invention and has made patent applications seeking protection of this intellectual property. The LieNA process has the potential to not only expand current hard-rock lithium resources and reduce mining costs but also improve the sustainability of spodumene production and the subsequent manufacture of lithium chemicals.

On February 9th, the federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews announced funding to “cement Australia’s position as a critical minerals powerhouse, grow the economy and create new jobs.”

Lithium Australia received $1.3 million from the grant to progress the next development stage of its LieNA technology, the total project cost of which is $3.6 million, of which $2.2 million will be spent on pilot plant trials.

A significant proportion of the total project cost involves the design, construction and operation of a batch autoclave pilot plant at ANSTO’s Lucas Heights facilities in New South Wales.

As a part of its aim of ‘closing the loop’ on the energy-metal cycle, Lithium Australia seeks to establish a position in the battery-raw-materials supply chain and provide a production pathway not constrained by the requirements of conventional spodumene converters.