Lithium Australia assesses feed sources ahead of pilot plant recommissioning

Lithium Australia ASX LIT pegmatite Lepidolite Hill quarry
Pegmatite exposed within the walls of the Lepidolite Hill quarry, 520 km east of Perth, Western Australia.

Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) has begun assessing suitable lithium feed sources to meet requirements for its pilot plant’s first year of operations once it has been recommissioned.

As part of the company’s strategy to create battery grade lithium from unconventional feed sources such as lepidolite and mine waste, Lithium Australia has been evaluating lepidolite lithium sources throughout Western Australia and Europe.

The company has developed its proprietary SiLeach process which can produce lithium chemicals for the battery sector using these feed sources.

“Lithium Australia is striving to improve the sustainability of the energy-metal sector,” Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said.

“Our range of technologies allows us to seize opportunities as they arise, and that includes more than merely accessing mine waste – we’re also developing the ability to rebirth used lithium-ion batteries,” Mr Griffin added.

One of the sources currently being assessed is Lithium Australia’s 80%-owned Lepidolite Hill lithium deposit where the ore has been undergoing metallurgical test work.

Historical mining at the deposit during the 1970s resulted in a large amount of lepidolite relegated to the waste dumps.

Preliminary ore sorting has sifted through unsatisfactory lepidolite leaving the remaining lepidolite mineralisation to be prepared for SiLeach digestion, which will comprise crushing, grinding and flotation, with the final material sorted and assayed in readiness for further comminution and flotation tests.

Very Small Particle Company acquisition

To pursue its energy metal recycling strategy, Lithium Australia acquired the Very Small Particle Company late last month.

According to Lithium Australia, several prominent university researchers established the Very Small Particle Company to develop novel technologies, including what Lithium Australia claims is “the world’s most advanced cathode production technology for lithium-ion on batteries”. Lithium Australia also purports the technology is compatible with its own patented SiLeach process.

The Very Small Particle Company owns the pilot plant which Lithium Australia plans to recommission and produce battery-grade materials from the lepidolite waste and other sources.

“Supply shortages are already a reality in the lithium-ion battery space,” Mr Griffin said, noting “Very Small Particle Company provides us with the opportunity to manufacture the most advanced cathode materials in the world, at the high-margin end of the battery metals market.”

“The Very Small Particle Company acquisition elevates Lithium Australia’s role as a processor of primary materials to that of a sustainable producer of lithium-ion battery components,” he said.

By mid-morning trade, shares in Lithium Australia had increased 3% to A$0.165.

Lorna has more than 10 years' experience as a finance journalist and editor. She has written for numerous industry publications reporting on various sectors, including: resources, energy, construction, biotech, pharma, science and technology, agriculture, and chemicals. Specialising in resources, Lorna has also covered a myriad of small and large cap ASX and dual-listed stocks.