THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) announced it has successfully recovered critical battery metals from spent lithium-ion batteries (LIBs).
Lithium Australia said the achievement had come about during test work undertaken with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), including proprietary refining technology developed by Lithium Australia that generates lithium phosphate (LP).
Based on the company’s internal process modelling, overall process recoveries for nickel and cobalt (greater than 90 per cent) result in a concentrate suitable for use as feed for conventional refining.
It has been estimated from the results that lithium recovery to a refined LP product will exceed 85 per cent.
The spent batteries LIT used during process development were collected, shredded and separated by Envirostream Australia Pty Ltd, of which Lithium Australia owns 18.9 per cent.
Subsequent physical processing of those spent battery materials recovered a mixed metal dust (MMD), which was then processed by ANSTO and the lithium recovered as LP that was, in turn, further refined using a proprietary hydrometallurgical extraction and purifying process.
The refined LP generated at ANSTO has been shipped to Lithium Australia’s wholly owned VSPC cathode material pilot plant in Brisbane, where it is to be converted to lithium-ferro-phosphate (LFP) for testing in coin-cell LIBs manufactured at the plant.
Lithium Australia claimed its combined flow sheet simplifies the steps required to transition from lithium materials to batteries without the need for a costly and energy-intensive roasting process.
The company signalled it intends to rebirth the lithium from spent LIBs by incorporating it into new LFP batteries as well as selling the nickel and cobalt recovered from those same spent LIBs to offtakers for further refining.
“Successfully recovering a precursor of such high purity for the production of new LIBs from material otherwise destined for landfill is a huge step forward for the battery industry,” Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.
“Lithium Australia, together with its partner Envirostream Australia, is investigating the commercial potential of this breakthrough.
“Right now, we’re in discussion with consumers of lithium, nickel and cobalt – both within Australia and overseas – and we see huge potential for a local battery recycling industry.”