Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) is about to ship its technologically advanced lithium-iron phosphate cathode powders to China after producing the material through its recently commissioned VSPC plant in Queensland.
Queensland Resources Council chief executive officer Ian Macfarlane officially opened the plant last week with the plant now completing a number of pilot runs and in-house testing confirming the material’s high-capacity and performance.
Over the next fortnight, a number of samples will be produced for transport to lithium-ion battery makers in China.
“We are convinced that VSPC’s elegant solution to increasing lithium-ion battery efficiency is the best available for the production of lithium-iron phosphate cathode powders,” Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin.
“The technology also has applications in catalyst and medical fields.”
“Independent tests have already shown that VSPC cathode powders out-perform industry benchmarks – a compelling reason for cell makers to use VSPC material,” Mr Griffin added.
VSPC and lithium-iron phosphate
Formerly known as the Very Small Particle Company, VSPC was established 15 years ago. Since then, around $30 million has been spend on research to produce what Mr Griffin says are “some of the most advanced cathode materials in the world”.
“The material we are primarily producing is a lithium-iron phosphate and that is a precursor to the production of cathodes. It is produced in the form of a powder and one of the critical aspects with respect to the production of that material is the size.”
He added the VSPC is capable of producing the lithium-iron phosphate material at a “much finer size than anyone else can”, giving the battery “far superior performance”.
“As far as I am aware, in Australia, on pilot scale, we are the only producer [of lithium-iron phosphate].”
He pointed out the plant’s recommissioning was not an overnight success.
“It’s been a long time coming.”
Integration along the supply chain
Lithium Australia’s strategy is to become integrated along the lithium value chain using mine waste as the original feedstock.
“Downstream integration is all important from the point of view of a stable supply chain, and all important from a company leveraging off the benefits of lithium and lithium chemicals,” Mr Griffin said.
“If you look at that supply chain, the maximum leverage you get is the conversion of lithium and other metals into cathode powders.”
“There’s an economic imperative there to get into that end of the supply chain,” he noted.
By mid-afternoon trade, shares in Lithium Australia had lifted more than 3% to reach $0.102.