PATENT FOR LIENA TECH­NOL­OGY

The Australian Mining Review - - NEWS - RAY CHAN

Lithium Aus­tralia has re­ceived a ‘Cer­tifi­cate of Grant’ from IP Aus­tralia for its LieNA lithium pro­cess­ing tech­nol­ogy patent, pro­vid­ing le­gal pro­tec­tion in Aus­tralia for 20 years over the tech­nol­ogy.

LieNA sig­nif­i­cantly im­proves met­al­lur­gi­cal re­cov­ery of lithium from fine and con­tam­i­nated spo­dumene. Hard-rock lithium pro­duc­tion has long faced a ma­jor sus­tain­abil­ity is­sue of poor re­cov­er­ies of spo­dumene from the mine on­wards to the pro­duc­tion of lithium chem­i­cals.

While the re­cov­ery rate of lithium from con­ven­tional spo­dumene ben­e­fi­ci­a­tion varies, it can be as low as 50pc ow­ing to the con­cen­trate off­take spec­i­fi­ca­tion con­straints ap­plied by the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion of lithium chemical pro­duc­ers, all of which com­mence the process by roast­ing the con­cen­trate.

LieNA does not re­quire a roast­ing stage and can re­cover lithium from the fine and con­tam­i­nated spo­dumene that oth­er­wise re­ports to waste or tail­ings streams dur­ing cur­rent con­cen­tra­tion pro­cesses. The tech­nique con­sists of a caus­tic di­ges­tion process fol­lowed by acid leach­ing to re­cover the de­sired lithium chemical. Be­cause no roast­ing is re­quired, LieNA is also a more en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly so­lu­tion to pro­cess­ing spo­dumene.

With its abil­ity to process fine and con­tam­i­nated spo­dumene that would oth­er­wise go to waste, LieNA has the po­ten­tial to not only ex­pand cur­rent hard-rock lithium re­sources, thereby re­duc­ing min­ing costs, but also en­hance the sus­tain­abil­ity of spo­dumene pro­duc­tion and the sub­se­quent man­u­fac­ture of lithium chem­i­cals.

Lithium Aus­tralia man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Adrian Grif­fin said com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion of the LieNA process is an op­por­tu­nity to im­prove the sus­tain­abil­ity of the lithi­u­mion bat­tery in­dus­try.

“We see an im­me­di­ate ap­pli­ca­tion for it in Aus­tralia, which pro­duces well over half the world’s lithium re­quire­ments and nearly all of the spo­dumene needed; how­ever, sig­nif­i­cant quan­ti­ties of the lat­ter never make it into the process sup­ply chain,” he said.

“The prob­lem starts with the very na­ture of the min­eral and the pro­cesses cur­rently used to re­cover lithium from it. “LieNA could help mit­i­gate much of the waste in the lithium in­dus­try.”

Mr Grif­fin said Lithium Aus­tralia would con­tinue its em­pha­sis on de­vel­op­ing novel so­lu­tions to lithium pro­cess­ing prob­lems.

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