Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) has locked the booming European battery market in its sights, with the company saying its world-first breakthrough technology of producing lithium-ion batteries from mine waste would work on ore from its German-based Sadisdorf project.
Only last week, Lithium Australia’s wholly owned subsidiary VSPC used its proprietary SiLeach process to generate tri-lithium phosphate from mine waste, which was a lithium mica material recovered from waste in Western Australia’s Kalgoorlie region.
The tri-lithium phosphate was then converted to a lithium-iron-phosphate cathode material at VSPC’s lab in Queensland.
Then, the lithium-iron-phosphate was used to create coin cell lithium-ion batteries, which, when tested, achieved equivalent performance to VSPC’s advanced cathode powders, which are manufactured from lithium carbonate.
This process eliminates the need to produce high-purity lithium hydroxide or lithium carbonate, which is often the most cost-intensive and challenging steps in developing lithium-ion batteries.
“The most notable aspect of this achievement is its simplicity, and ability to streamline the processes and cost required to produce lithium-ion battery cathode materials,” Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin explained.
Sadisdorf lithium project
According to Lithium Australia, the lithium mica mine waste that was sourced to generate the lithium-ion batteries at VSPC’s lab has “similar metallurgical properties” to the micas found within its wholly-owned Sadisdorf project.
“The breakthrough the company has achieved by generating cathode powders direct from tri-lithium phosphate will significantly influence the economic potential of not only the Sadisdorf project, but also similar occurrences elsewhere in Europe,” the company stated.
Lithium Australia will now incorporate its breakthrough process in a scoping study at Sadisdorf which is underway.
Sadisdorf has an initial resource of 25 million tonnes at 0.45% lithium and Lithium Australia is looking to further expand this estimate through exploration.
Drilling at the project earlier this year unearthed lithium-mica intersections of 78.51m at 0.51% lithium, 68.56m at 0.51% lithium, and 32.19m at 0.52% lithium.
In addition to lithium, tin and tungsten were also encountered at Sadisdorf.
Because the project is on the doorstep of Europe’s rapidly expanding lithium-ion battery and electric vehicle markets, Lithium Australia is looking to feed those markets using Sadisdorf ore and its proprietary processing technology, which has the potential to “significantly reduce” lithium-ion battery manufacturing costs.