Lithium Australia prepares pilot test for new spodumene processing technology

Perth-based Lithium Australia has confirmed it is preparing a pilot test for a spodumene conversion process that can significantly increase efficiencies in the lithium chemical conversion process.

The company’s LieNA technology is a hydrometallurgical process without any need for roasting that is capable of handling very fine spodumene particles, resulting in less impurity rejection during the lithium recovery process.

ASX-listed Lithium Australia said that the size sensitivity of today’s converters could result in a loss of 25-50% of lithium within the ore feed to the concentrator, leading to high mining and lithium chemicals production costs.

“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 managing director Adrian Griffin said.

The pilot plan test will run in September with construction already underway, courtesy of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).

Lithium Australia will source the sample spodumene from an Australian lithium project owned by Essential Metals. The lithium chemicals produced at the pilot plant will then be sent to Lithium Australia’s subsidiary VSPC to generate cathode powders and coin-cell lithium-ion batteries. This will be processed by ALS Metallurgy to produce the concentrate feed for the plant.