Lithium Australia Produces Batteries From Mine Waste

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) informed the market of work carried out by its wholly-owned subsidiary, VSPC Ltd.

Using Lithium Australia’s registered Sileach process, VSPC has produced Li-ion battery (LIB) cathode material, and Li-ion batteries, from tri-lithium phosphate produced directly from mine waste.

LIT’s ground-breaking SiLeach process removes the requirement for generating high-purity lithium hydroxide or carbonate, which has long been one of the most cost-intensive, and challenging steps in the manufacture of LIBs.

VSPC converted the tri-lithium phosphate to lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) cathode material at its advanced electrochemical laboratory and pilot plant facility in Brisbane.

Lithium Australia explained that the proprietary processes used to generate the LFP nanoparticles is covered by patents granted to VSPC, resulting in the cathode material being independently characterised and determined to be of similar quality to VSPC standard LFP material.

LIT declared the test’s demonstrated ability to bypass lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide as battery precursors, provides potential to greatly reduce the costs associated with battery manufacture.

It also demonstrated that use of mine waste in the battery production cycle can provide greater sustainability to global lithium resources.

Lithium Australia is also developing a process for direct production of cathode powders from lithium brines.

This could not only eliminate the requirement to produce high-purity lithium hydroxide or carbonate but also reduce the requirement for evaporation ponds.

Lithium Australia claimed the conversion of mine waste, to LIB without the requirement to produce a lithium hydroxide or lithium carbonate precursor as a world first that has potential to provide a commercial outcome to many stranded resources creating ethical and sustainable supply in the process.

“The remarkable outcome is a credit to our development team,” Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“The most notable aspect of this achievement is its simplicity, and ability to streamline the processes and cost required to produce LIB cathode materials.

“The broader application to lithium brine exploitation provides enormous potential for that part of the lithium industry, by removing the cost intensive route to lithium hydroxide – the direct use of lithium phosphate to produce cathode powders may do that.”





Lithium Australia Boss Laments Lack of Government Foresight

COMMODITY CAPERS: Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) managing director Adrian Griffin launched a stinging criticism of the lack of government support for the emerging Australian lithium industry.

Griffin has never been one to waste words when getting a point across and he took aim at a government he – and others – see to be missing a great opportunity for the country.

That opportunity being the development – in country – of technologies to produce lithium concentrates to export as the essential additive to the battery industry and make the country richer than it currently is.

Griffin intimated that there is currently plenty of interest in the battery technologies being developed by Lithium Australia from industry players internationally.

Unlike the company’s home country, he said many of these jurisdictions sitting beyond our sea-girt shores are encouraging Lithium Australia to consider opportunities within their own regions, where governments are prioritising the development of such technologies as a key focus of next-generation economic growth.

“Unfortunately, although Lithium Australia is at the forefront of next-gen battery technology and supply sources, it has not received the same encouragement from within Australia, where its governing bodies, while voicing enthusiastic support for mooted downstream lithium processing, are in reality allowing the country to lag behind international competitors – despite the natural advantages Australia enjoys with its rich endowment of lithium and other battery elements,” Griffin said.

“Australia’s federal government in particular has significantly reduced R&D rebates, now capped at $4 million per annum for all but the biotech industry, which will continue to enjoy open-ended rebates for the purposes of conducting clinical trials.

“Is this anomalous, in that pilot testing and product endorsement within the metallurgical industry in many ways mimic clinical trial processes for biotech products?

“Lithium Australia has, for example, initiated similar procedures to secure product endorsement of the advanced cathode powders being produced at its VSPC plant in Brisbane, Australia.

“As it stands then, the federal government’s R&D policy would provide biotech companies with an open-ended rebate for clinical trials of lithium carbonate (an accepted treatment for certain medical conditions but also a precursor to the manufacture of lithium-ion battery cathodes) but not Lithium Australia for trials of the same product for other applications.”





Lithium Australia Produces Lithium Chemicals From Sileach Trial Plant

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Lithium Australia announced the production of lithium chemicals from the company’s Sileach Pilot Plant.

SiLeach® is Lithium Australia’s proprietary lithium processing technology.

The company has conducted Stage 1 and 2 trials of the process at the ANSTO’s minerals piloting facility in New South Wales shortly after commissioning of the second generation, purpose built pilot plant.

Lithium Australia declared Stage 1 of the SiLeach pilot plant trial achieved 94 per cent lithium extraction on continuous run, after which Stage 2 of the SiLeach pilot plant trial kicked off on schedule and produced lithium phosphate within 16 hours of start-up.

from Stage 1 of the trial, SiLeach succeeded in generating lithium solutions from mine waste to feed Stage 2 of the trial, designed to generate lithium chemicals from those solutions.

The Stage 2 trial began as planned on 10 September 2018.

The SiLeach technology was used to separate and remove calcium and fluorine impurities from the lithium solutions generated during Stage 1.

The impurities were precipitated as solids prior to the subsequent precipitation of high-purity lithium phosphate.

Lithium Australia indicated that the barren liquor from that process will be further vendor tested for the recovery of potassium sulphate.

“The success of the new pilot plant facility at ANSTO augurs well for our scale-up aspirations,” Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“It’s encouraging to note the relative ease with which we’ve achieved targets to date, particularly in view of the feed material used – in this case, contaminated mine waste from the Kalgoorlie region.

“SiLeach is ideal for recovering lithium from such materials.

“We’re also enthusiastic about other applications for some of these process steps; in particular, the recovery of lithium from brine, which currently involves lengthy solar evaporation and is subject to the vagaries of the weather.”





Lithium Australia Completes Stage 1 of Sileach Plant Trial

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) completed the first stage of a two-stage trial of the company’s SiLeach® pilot plant the ANSTO’s minerals piloting facility in New South Wales.

Lithium Australia explained the concentrate used as feed for the trial was prepared in Perth and consisted of lepidolite recovered from mine waste.

Stage 1 of the trial produced a lithium pregnant liquor from lepidolite feed that will be processed during Stage 2 to produce lithium chemicals.

Stage 1 ran from 6-16 August 2018, during which the plant operated in continuous mode for five days, processing lepidolite concentrate at approximately four kilograms per hour through leach, pre-neutralisation and impurity removal stages.

Preliminary data indicated lithium extraction in the leach circuit peaked at 97.5 per cent and averaged 94 per cent for the duration of the trial.

Lithium Australia said the trial had successfully demonstrated continuous operation of the company’s proprietary SiLeach process, including full recycle of intermediate process streams.

“We are extremely pleased with the outcome of the first stage of the two-stage SiLeach pilot plant trial at ANSTO Minerals,” Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“We anticipate that stage 2 will result in the production of a lithium chemical from waste material sourced near Kalgoorlie.

“We will then apply VSPC’s proprietary process to that lithium chemical and, ultimately, produce a lithium-ion battery: a world first.

“And we’ll do so whether the Australian federal government chooses to back the Lithium Valley concept or just ignore it.”

Lithium Australia indicated it is assessing the implications of the federal government’s policy change in capping its Research and Development rebate scheme, a move the company feels has potential to negatively affect the new energy metals processing industry proposed for Western Australia.

Lithium Australia is considering relocating its successful R&D activities elsewhere – perhaps Germany, which has a target date for the demise of internal combustion engines and is facilitating that by way of attractive R&D financial support.





Lithium Australia Confirms Sadisdorf Mineralisation

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) received results from a maiden drilling program carried out at the Sadisdorf project in Saxony, Germany.

Lithium Australia said the three-hole program confirmed historic results at the project, encountering consistent lithium mineralisation, as mica including:

78.51 metres at 0.51 per cent lithium oxide (Li2O) and 68.56m at 0.51 per cent Li2O; and

78.09m at 0.48 per cent Li2O.

The drilling also hit intercepts of tin mineralisation including:

19.4m at 0.65 per cent tin; and

2.09m at 0.72 per cent tin.

Additional tungsten mineralisation was encountered at depth, including:

1m at 1.65 per cent tungsten.

“Lithium Australia’s maiden drilling program at Sadisdorf confirms the polymetallic style the mineralisation and the conservative nature of current resource statements,” Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“We are advancing the Sadisdorf scoping study on the basis that our 100 per cent-owned SiLeach process can unlock the full potential of this style of mineralisation.

“The project location can take full advantage of the rapidly developing EV industry in Europe and has the potential develop a new industry for Germany.”

Lithium Australia explained that through its wholly owned subsidiary, Trilithium Erzgebirge AG, it is in the process of acquiring a 100 per cent beneficial interest in the Sadisdorf deposit, which it described as a mothballed tin mine within a greisen (altered granite) the pervasive alteration consisting of lithium micas.

The project presently contains an Inferred Resource of 25 million tonnes at 0.45 per cent Li2O.

Lithium Australia considers the recently-completed drilling program shows potential for future resource increases.





Lithium Australia Subsidiary Commences Production of Lithium-ion Cathode Material

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Lithium Australia announced the first cathode material produced at VSPC’s re-commissioned pilot plant in Brisbane destined for delivery to international battery makers in Q4 2018.

A Lithium Australia subsidiary, VSPC is a specialist battery-component research and development laboratory.

The latter’s pilot production facilities in Brisbane are now fully re-commissioned, and lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) battery cathode material is being produced.

International battery makers have previously shown strong interest in VSPC’s 4th-generation LFP cathode material.

Tests completed late in 2017, demonstrated the performance of VSPC’s cathode material exceeded that of an industry standard material.

With its electrochemical laboratory facilities now fully operational, the quality and consistency of VSPC’s pilot-production materials are currently being verified via the company’s advanced, on-site electrochemical testing facilities, the capabilities of which include the ability to assemble and test lithium-ion coin and pouch cells.

“VSPC gives Lithium Australia the opportunity to manufacture the world’s most advanced cathode materials – at the high-margin end of the battery metals market,” Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“Importantly, VSPC will also allow us to capitalise on waste batteries as a feed source.

“We anticipate immense pressure on the supply of energy metals such as lithium and cobalt in the near future.

“Battery recycling not only supports sustainability but may also, ultimately, prove the cheapest source of those energy metals materials in years to come.

“The ability to produce cathode powders from these materials, while also controlling particle size, is clearly advantageous.

“It is an integral part of our sustainable and ethical supply policy.”





Lithium Australia Acquires European Lithium Resource

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Lithium Australia (ASX:LIT) announced it is to, subject to regulatory requirements, acquire 100 per cent of the Sadisdorf lithium/tin resource from Tin International AG.

Lithium Australia said the acquisition of Sadisdorf provides the company a unique opportunity with the potential to develop a domestic European lithium supply, synchronously with the establishment of lithium-ion battery (LIB) production capacity on the Continent.

The company indicated that on completion of the Sadisdorf acquisition, it will accelerate its development plans with a view of completing a scoping study by October 2018.

The scoping study will run in parallel with evaluation of nearby cobalt mineralisation, development of the company’s registered SiLeach technology, and downstream processing to LIB cathode materials.

Consultant CSA Global has estimated that the Sadisdorf project has an Inferred Mineral Resource of 25 million tonnes grading 0.45 per cent lithium dioxide (Li2O)

Lithium Australia said this lithium is contained within lithium micas within alteration around tin mineralisation, the latter being the subject of historic mining.

The company claims the lithium micas can be readily concentrated after the removal of tin by conventional gravity separation.

Lithium has been successfully extracted from Sadisdorf mica concentrates using LIT’s SiLeach process.

“Acquisition of Sadisdorf is a key component of our European energy metal supply strategy,” Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“SiLeach® is the only practical means of realising the full potential of deposits of this type where value can be recovered from the lithium, tin, potassium and other valuable by-products.

“Our recent cobalt exploration success in the region is testimony to the latent potential of Saxony as a supply centre of the European battery industry.”





Lithium Australia Lands More German Lithium Hits

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) claimed verification of cobalt-copper-lithium mineralisation from exploration fieldwork undertaken within the company’s fully owned Eichigt project in Germany.

Lithium Australia said cobalt and copper mineralisation has been encountered in the field with grades of up to 1.47 per cent for cobalt and 0.54 per cent for copper present in Eichigt field samples.

The company highlighted that lithium results from this exploration activity at the project were also elevated – critically, within weathered material – with grades of up to 0.71 per cent lithium oxide (Li2O) received.

LIT declared these results for cobalt and copper confirm polymetallic mineralisation encountered previously within the Eichigt project area, adding that deleterious elements, including arsenic and uranium are very low in concentration.

The cobalt has shown to occur in association with iron-and manganese-as part of a polymetallic gossan formed at surface above an extensive vein system. The oxides are enriched in lithium.

Lithium Australia noted this style of mineralisation has not been previously described in the region.

“The results of the first exploration campaign at Eichigt strongly supports our view that the license area we applied for was neglected during systematic exploration work carried out during the time of the GDR,” Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“The combination of cobalt, lithium and copper is an indication of the genesis of the mineralised system and the strong possibility of finding source granites and greisen style mineralisation we see nearby at Sadisdorf.

“The historic diggings indicate the strike extent, albeit remaining open.

“The down-dip extensions will be evaluated after delineation of the extent of surface mineralisation.”

The company was granted the 133 square kilometre Eichigt exploration licence in January this year, adding to its existing Sadisdorf project, also in Saxony.

Lithium Australia is farming into a joint venture (JV) with German company Tin International AG.

A 2012 JORC code-compliant Inferred Mineral Resource of 25 million tonnes at 0.45 per cent Li2O (at a cut-off of 0.3 per cent Li2O) was announced for the project in December last year.

Lithium Australia has stated its objective to establish a central processing hub in Europe to support battery production for the rapidly expanding electric vehicle industry.

The company plans to use its 100 per cent- owned SiLeach process to recover lithium from its German projects, should doing so prove economically feasible.





Lithium Australia Claims German Cobalt Discovery

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) announced the first results of a maiden exploration program undertaken at the company’s fully-owned Eichigt project in Germany.

Lithium Australia said the initial exploration focused on copper-bearing quartz-veins that were subjected to small-scale mining activities during the 16th century.

From these, cobalt and copper mineralisation were encountered, with grades up to 0.6 per cent for cobalt and 0.48 per cent for copper from sample E802G.

“Strong, previously undescribed cobalt mineralisation at surface confirms the limited nature of past exploration,” Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“The diggings encountered are testimony to the considerable extent of the strike.

“Close to our Sadisdorf lithium project, and on the doorstep of the European EV manufacturers, this cobalt could prove a strategic feed into the burgeoning battery industry.”