THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) has received a Notice of Acceptance from IP Australia for its LieNA® technology patent application.
Lithium Australia, in conjunction with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) is researching and developing the LieNA technology for the recovery of lithium from spodumene, the most common hard-rock source of lithium for the production of critical battery chemicals.
While the recovery rate of lithium from conventional spodumene beneficiation varies, it can be as low as 50 per cent owing to the concentrate offtake specification constraints applied by thermal convertors.
The LieNA process does not require a roasting stage and is able to recover lithium from the fine spodumene that otherwise ends up as waste or tailings streams during current concentration processes.
Being able to rescue the fine 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 subsequent manufacture of lithium chemicals.
Lithium Australia considers its receipt of the Notice of Acceptance from IP Australia for its LieNA patent application as vindication of the value of the company’s intellectual property.
Lithium Australia has also received notification from WIPO that its patent application for the second-generation LieNA process technology, which includes the enhancements achieved by recovering lithium phosphate, has been published.
“The ability to process fine spodumene that would otherwise never enter the supply chain represents a real opportunity,” Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.
“Processing such material can reduce the environmental impact of hard-rock lithium mining and improve sustainability with no additional mining costs or footprint.
“Importantly, application of LieNA® could not only change the economics of spodumene production but also provide a means of producing lithium-ion batteries that includes fewer processing steps and better quality control.
“We appreciate the involvement of ANSTO, a leader in the field of lithium-extraction technologies.”