PATENT FOR LIENA TECHNOLOGY
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.