Lithium Australia Seeks to Strengthen Battery Recycling IP Protection

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) revealed it has filed two International Patent Applications with the Australia Patent Office.

Lithium Australia made the submissions under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), which relate to the company’s 90 per cent-owned subsidiary company, Envirostream Australia Pty Ltd’s selective separation of metal values from recycled lithium-ion batteries and recovery of electrode materials.

The first of the PCT applications: ‘Process for recovering values from batteries’ covers a size-selective process for recovering electrode material from lithium-ion batteries, including as a mixed metal material (mixed metal dust, ‘MMD’) that comprises both cathode and anode powders.

The second: ‘Process for recovering values from process liquors’ describes processes for the selective recovery of mixed metal sulphates (such as a mixed cobalt-nickel sulphate) from a metal sulphate process liquor following leaching of mixed metal material (MMD) recovered from lithium-ion batteries.

“The Lithium Australia group is acutely aware of its environmental footprint and that of the society within which we live and operate,” Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said in the company’s ASX announcement.

“We can no longer afford to discard any products to landfill, let alone those that have a high embedded energy footprint, contain critical materials, or – in the case of lithium-ion batteries – both.

“We have developed unique processes to deal with battery waste and invite like-minded industry participants to work with us in improving the sustainability of our consumer-based society.”








Battery Recyclers Spinout Critical Metal Assets

COMMODITY CAPERS: Two Australian companies, Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT), and Neometals (ASX: NMT), both of which are making advancements in the recycling of lithium-ion batteries, are spinning out battery metal assets to maintain exposure to raw materials.

If the human race operated like a scout troop, it could be mooted that the badge most of us would like to earn, and then wear with much pride, would be that of the ‘Enthusiastic Recycler’.

People, generally, are eager to push their recycling credentials, ensuring their weekly rubbish collection is sorted into correct bins that enable those further up the recycling chain to separate tin cans from newspapers.

The surge in electronic device use and the demand for the advancement of same over the past twenty years has been documented by us and others over and over again in recent times.

What has also been reported throughout this time is the demand for lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) due to their being a major source of portable power.

Again, we have been inundated by boffins from all sides, warning us of the environmental concern LIBs offer, especially since that globally only around nine per cent of spent batteries are recycled, with Australia maintaining its inability to keep pace with global environmental trends by recycling just three per cent, to keep them out of landfill, or more importantly, to recover valuable metals.

“Used batteries have been a problem for decades from a household and industrial waste perspective,” Chris Bolt recently wrote on the web page.

“While battery technology has changed a lot, even the most advanced rechargeable lithium ion batteries may still contain materials that could be considered hazardous.

“Most people just associate environmental pollution with these types of batteries, but there are other risks you need to be aware of.

“During the end-of-life stage of any modern electronic device, poor handling, storage, and disposal could increase the risk of fire or poisoning.

“Fortunately, lithium ion battery recycling is starting to become a widespread practice (even though it can be difficult to do so).”

Lithium Australia has hung its shingle on supplying ethically and sustainably sourced materials to the battery industry worldwide through the development of disruptive extraction technologies.

The company is operating on its belief that discarded electronic/battery waste may ultimately prove the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly source of critical metals.

LIT aspires to ‘close the loop’ on the energy metal cycle via its principal business units, which comprise its SiLeach® technology that converts mine waste to battery chemicals; and its subsidiary company VSPC Ltd that is an Australian-based company that has developed and patented processes for the cost-effective manufacture of high-purity, nano-scale materials for the lithium-ion battery market.

Neometals has also developed a proprietary sustainable process that recovers critical metals from cell production scrap and end-of-life LIBs.

Neometals has developed a processing flowsheet that targets recovery of more than 90 per cent of all battery materials from LIBs that might otherwise hit land fill.

This recycling process targets recovery of materials from consumer electronic batteries (devices with lithium cobalt oxide (LCO) cathodes), and nickel‐rich electric vehicle and stationary storage battery chemistries (lithium‐nickel-manganese‐cobalt (NMC) cathodes).

Through its recycling joint venture (Primobius GmbH) with German Company SMS group, Neometals aims to make revenue from provision of recycling services, licensing and sale of recovered cobalt, nickel, lithium, copper, iron, aluminium, manganese into saleable products.

This week, both companies informed the progress of the demerger/spinout/sale – call it what you will – of assets to aspiring IPOs.

Lithium Australia brought the market up to speed regarding its sale and Joint-Venture terms with ASX-aspirant Charger Metals.

With its listing expected on July 8, Charger Metals has exercised an option to acquire a 70 per cent interest in Lithium Australia’s Coates, Lake Johnston and Bynoe projects.

The Coates project is in the Western Yilgarn nickel/copper/platinum group elements belt, close to the recent Julimar discovery of Chalice Mining (ASX: CHN) in Western Australia, to which the JV believes the Coates project exhibits very similar geology.

The second endeavour is the Lake Johnston project, near Southern Cross, again in WA, which is considered prospective for lithium, gold and nickel and has outcropping lithium (spodumene) pegmatites.

Thirdly is the Bynoe project, near Darwin in the Northern Territory, which the JV has declared prospective for lithium and gold and close to recent discoveries of both commodities.

“Lithium Australia retains significant exposure to raw materials through its equity in Charger, as well as its free-carried project interests,” Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said.

“The latter potentially provide access to raw materials that the Lithium Australia group of companies can further process.

“Charger Metals’ specialised expertise will expedite a focused exploration effort, leaving Lithium Australia to concentrate on its core business: the ethical and sustainable supply of energy metals to the battery industry and the development of a circular battery economy.

“We eagerly await exploration outcomes at the Coates, Bynoe and Lake Johnston projects.”

Neometals’ rational is similar to that of its battery recycling chum declaring the anticipated listing of Widgie Nickel will enable development of the Mt Edwards nickel field allowing it to focus on its core battery materials projects.

The Mt Edwards project is near the small township of Widgiemooltha, south of Kalgoorlie and west of Kambalda in Western Australia.

The project spans approximately 50km of strike length across the Widgiemooltha Dome, which is a world class nickel sulphide camp that hosts more than seven historical nickel mines with a new mine, Mincor Resources’ Cassini operation, recently commencing production.

Neometals proclaimed its intention to demerge the Mt Edwards nickel project into a dedicated nickel exploration and development company on the back of a week of announcements that saw the company increase the global Mt Edwards project Mineral Resources to 10.215 million tonnes at 1.6 per cent nickel for 162,510 tonnes of contained nickel across 11 deposits.

“The demerger and return of our Mt Edwards asset offers existing Neometals shareholders the opportunity to realise the inherent long-term value of this exciting development story in a discrete, nickel focussed corporate vehicle,” Neometals managing director Chris Reed said.

“Widgie Nickel has a number of very exciting deposits located on the Widgiemooltha Dome, a world class nickel sulphide camp that has hosted more than seven historical nickel mines and hosts Australia’s newest high-grade nickel mine being developed less than a kilometre from our southern tenure.

“These assets are highly deserving of their own time and attention, and the recent metallurgical results from just one of the deposits that revealed high grade palladium reporting to concentrate demonstrates just some of what can be achieved with a dedicated focus.

“Widgie Nickel is strongly leveraged to both the world economic recovery and the electrification of transport which will drive increasing product demand from both the traditional steel and lithium battery sectors.

“The Neometals Board considers it is the best outcome for shareholders that a new, independent entity is established to devote the technical, human and financial resources that the Mt Edwards Project deserves.

“We are excited by what Widgie Nickel can achieve with the assets.

“A capital reduction and in-specie distribution to Neometals shareholders will provide a direct level of participation in a new nickel-focussed business, while Neometals remains focused on the Lithium-ion Battery Recycling JV (Primobius GmbH), the Scandinavian Vanadium Recovery Project and the Barrambie Titanium Project.”









Lithium Australia Readies to Pilot Test Spodumene Conversion Process

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) is ready to push the go button to pilot test the company’s LieNA® spodumene conversion process.

Lithium Australia’s self-developed LieNA® hydrometallurgical process differs to processes used by conventional converters, in that it requires no roasting, is capable of handling very fine spodumene particles and exhibits superior impurity rejection during the lithium recovery process.

In February the company received a grant under the Australian federal government’s CRC-P (Co-operative Research Centre Projects) initiative, to support the next stage of its $3.6 million research and development program for the recovery of lithium from spodumene using LieNA®.

Much of the preparatory work has now been completed, including collection of an initial test sample recovered from drill chips and bench-scale test work to characterise the flotation conditions required for pilot-plant production of concentrates from the drill chip sample, optimise caustic conversion conditions and confirm the final autoclave design specification.

“Lithium Australia’s LieNA® technology is the pinnacle for hydrometallurgical processing of spodumene, the principal hard-rock source of lithium,” Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said in the company’s ASX announcement.

“LieNA® is capable of recovering lithium from fine and/or contaminated spodumene that fails to meet the feed specifications of current converters.

“It also provides the highest levels of impurity rejection.

“It is these characteristics that set it apart.

“LieNA®, then, is designed to improve overall recovery and achieve better utilisation of existing resources: it’s about cost reduction, sustainability and maximising the benefit of our critical (and finite) resources.”









Lithium Australia Heralds National Battery Stewardship Scheme

THE CLEAN ENERGY CAFE: Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) has its sights on providing an ethical and sustainable supply of energy metals to the battery industry.

The company believes that by doing so it is creating a circular battery economy, thereby contributing to national, and global, energy security.

A major factor in Lithium Australia’s strategy is the recycling of old lithium-ion batteries to new.

The company is not alone in its objective with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recently highlighting its position on the environmental harm caused by disposing of batteries to landfill, which along with the cost of recycling batteries, is not currently reflected in their price.

As popular and mainstream household recycling has become there is currently little incentive – or instruction – for the disposal of batteries around Australia.

This is rapidly becoming an issue of some importance, for if you stop to think about the number of batteries being used in your home at this given moment, do you also stop to think about where they go when they die?

At present, responsibility for managing disposal of batteries is on the heads of local governments, meaning there is a lack of commercial incentives for Australian businesses to not only promote, but to more importantly, participate in the environmentally responsible disposal of end-of-life (EOL) batteries.

With all this is in mind, the ACCC has authorised the Battery Stewardship Council (BSC) to implement a national stewardship scheme for all types of EOL batteries, apart from lead-acid batteries and those already captured by existing schemes.

The rationale behind the scheme is to unite battery supply chain companies in efforts to greatly reduce the volume of toxic EOL batteries being disposed of as waste to landfill, and to maximise resource recovery by increasing collection and recycling rates and developing a domestic battery reprocessing capacity.

The levy and rebate system proposed under the scheme aspires to better align the price of batteries with the cost of their responsible disposal while increasing the incentive for businesses to facilitate their recycling.

The scheme will operate by imposing an annual levy, that will be reviewed annually and will be passed on through the supply chain to consumers.

This fee will be initially be set at four cents per equivalent battery unit (EBU) and will apply to companies that import more than 1,000 EBU annually.

It is estimated that the levy will raise $22 million annually.

Lithium Australia subsidiary company, Envirostream Australia is Australia’s only mixed battery recycler.

Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said this paced the subsidiary in good stead to take advantage of the benefits of the scheme.

“The levy on batteries will commoditise EOL batteries, currently considered waste material, and the value created will be a strong incentive to divert them from landfill,” Griffin said.

“We are anticipating a significant increase in feed material for Envirostream, and the more it gets the greater the benefit for the environment.

“The scheme should encourage more sustainable use of critical materials used in the manufacture of batteries, reducing reliance on primary production which, in some cases, relies on child labour and supply from conflict zones.”

Envirostream Australia is a mixed battery recycling company that was established in 2017 to develop safe and innovative management solutions for battery recycling, which it identified as an emerging challenge for the Australian waste industry.

In 2019 the CSIRO forecast the amount of discarded lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) in Australia will grow from 3,300 tonnes recorded in 2016 to between 100,000 and 188,000 tonnes by 2036.

Lithium Australia is investing in the logistical infrastructure necessary to recycle LIBs through a partnership with Envirostream Australia.

The company has now lodged two Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications relating to LIB recycling processes.

The first of these focuses on extraction of cathode materials for which Lithium Australia filed a PCT application entitled ‘Process for recovering values from batteries’ – that relates to processes for the recovery of electrode materials from LIBs (for example, electrode material comprising a cathode material and/or an anode material, such as a mixed metal dust), as well as recovery of the electrolyte.

The second covers the extraction of critical battery metals.

Entitled ‘Process for recovering metal values from process liquors’ it relates to processes for the selective recovery of mixed metal sulphates (for example, a mixed cobalt-nickel sulphate) from a metal sulphate process liquor.

“With our recent successful capital raising, we’re in a strong position to accelerate commercialisation of the technologies discussed here,” Adrian Griffin said in nteh company’s ASX announcement.

“Indeed, the first of those has already been implemented on a commercial scale at our Melbourne processing plant.

“These technical advances are timely, in that they coincide with the introduction of a national battery stewardship scheme designed to divert batteries from landfill, thereby increasing the quantities of spent batteries available for recycling.”








Bellevue Gold Increases Eponymous Gold Resource

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Bellevue Gold (ASX: BGL) has increased the total Resources at the company’s Bellevue gold project in Western Australia.


S2 Resources Identifies New Gold Trend in Finland

THE DRILL SERGEANT: S2 Resources (ASX: S2R) has identified a new gold mineralised trend to the east of the company’s 100 per cent-owned Aarnivalkea gold prospect in northern Finland.

Impact Minerals Enters Broken Hill Alliance MoU

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Impact Minerals (ASX: IPT) has signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Castillo Copper (ASX:CCZ) and Squadron Resources.

Lithium Australia Lithium Extraction Technology Patent Accepted

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) has received a Notice of Acceptance from IP Australia for its LieNA® technology patent application.


Lithium Australia Lithium Extraction Technology Patent Accepted

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.”







Cassini Resources and OZ Minerals Deliver PFS for Low-Carbon, Long-Life, Low-Cost Mine

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: OZ Minerals (ASX: OZL) and Cassini Resources (ASX: CZI) finally delivered the long-awaited results of the West Musgrave, Nebo-Babel Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS).

Gold Road Releases 2020 Gruyere Guidance and Resource Upgrade

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Gold Road Resources (ASX: GOR) reported 2020 production guidance and a Resource upgrade for the Gruyere Joint Venture.

Lithium Australia Subsidiary Awarded Federal Battery Development Grant

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) 100 per cent-owned subsidiary VSPC is to participate in a federal government Co-operative Research Centres Projects (‘CRC-P’) program.


Lithium Australia Subsidiary Awarded Federal Battery Development Grant

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) 100 per cent-owned subsidiary VSPC is to participate in a federal government Co-operative Research Centres Projects (‘CRC-P’) program.

VSPC– together with CSIRO, University of Queensland (UQ) and Soluna – will receive a grant totalling $1.6 million for its participation in a $5 million CRC-P program to develop fast-charge lithium-ion batteries for use in new-generation trams.

Battery-powered trams eliminate the need for overhead power lines, which are expensive, visually polluting and potentially hazardous.

CSIRO has expertise in the design of Li-ion batteries as well as experience and intellectual property relating to fast-charge batteries for application in trams and other forms of transport, such as e-buses, ferries and military applications.

VSPC will partner with battery researchers at CSIRO’s Clayton site in Victoria to design, manufacture and test fast-charge Li-ion battery prototypes.

The UQ team at the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology – led by Professor Lianzhou Wang from the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology – has extensive capabilities with respect to the analysis of advanced materials.

VSPC will work with the UQ team on both the characterisation and optimisation of VSPC’s battery materials.

Soluna, meanwhile, will advise on manufacturing and also lead commercialisation of the fast-charge battery products developed.

“This is an unparalleled opportunity to combine VSPC’s battery-materials technology with some of the world’s leading research,” Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“The aim is to deliver an Australian product that puts this country at the forefront of battery development … and there’s more to it than trams; successful application of what is currently at our fingertips will lead to myriad other fast-charge applications, many of them not yet thought of.”







Azure Minerals Hits Impressive Gold Infilling Loma Bonita

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Azure Minerals (ASX: AZS) announced first assay results from mineral resource infill and extension drilling of the Loma Bonita gold-silver deposit, located at the company’s 100 per cent-owned Alacrán project in Sonora, Mexico.

Musgrave Minerals Commences Drilling on Lake Austin

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Musgrave Minerals (ASX: MGV) reported the commencement of aircore drilling on Lake Austin within the company’s Cue gold project in the Murchison district of Western Australia.

Magnetic Resources Hits High-Grade Gold Adjacent to Hawks Nest Feeder Zone

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Magnetic Resources (ASX: MAU) reported further results from a comprehensive 465 RC-hole program completed at the company’s Hawks Nest prospect, located near Laverton in Western Australia.

Lithium Australia Now 90% Owner of Battery Recycler Envirostream

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) announced that it has taken its stake in Envirostream to a 90 per cent ownership interest.


Lithium Australia Now 90% Owner of Battery Recycler Envirostream

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) announced that it has taken its stake in Envirostream to a 90 per cent ownership interest.

Envirostream is the only company in Australia with the integrated capacity to collect, sort, shred and separate all the components of spent lithium ion-batteries (LIBs), making it a perfect fit with Lithium Australia’s battery-metal-processing expertise.

Envirostream is an onshore mixed-battery recycling company that offers safe, sustainable and innovative management solutions for the disposal of LIBs, which is emerging as one of the biggest challenges facing the domestic waste industry.

The company has agreements with retailers and manufacturers regarding spent batteries and is looking to expand a collection network nationally with safe, reliable battery recycling units that are fully compliant with Australian standards.

The aim is to enable every Australian with reasonable access to drop-off points for spent batteries, in order to avoid them being relegated to kerbside collections and landfill.

“Envirostream offers a complete recycling solution for spent lithium-ion batteries, and in so doing is helping to safeguard the Australian environment by diverting toxic materials from landfill,” Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“With recycling yields exceeding 90 per cent by weight, our business is a major contributor to the sustainability of the battery industry.”