Lithium Australia NL (ASX: LIT) has received a ‘Certificate of Grant’ from IP Australia for a standard for its revolutionary SiLeach lithium-recovery technologies.
The first-generation of SiLeach now has 20 years of legal protection in Australia from February 9, 2017.
Lithium Australia, together with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (‘ANSTO’), is continuing R&D on its revolutionary lithium-recovery technologies for the production of critical battery chemicals.
Lithium Australia Managing Director, Adrian Griffin, said these technologies aim to deliver efficient, sustainable processing and production options for the lithium-ion battery (LIB) industry while reducing that industry’s environmental footprint for the benefit of the planet as a whole.
Lithium Australia’s revolutionary SiLeach process unlocks the value in lithium-bearing clays and micas,” Mr Griffin said.
“The SiLeach process can produce a range of lithium chemicals, including lithium carbonate and lithium phosphate. Significantly, the use of lithium phosphate (Li3PO4) is the shortest route to the production of lithium ferro phosphate (‘LFP’) batteries, which is also advantageous from an environmental, social and governance perspective.
“Granting of the Australian SiLeach patent is timely, given increased interest in the extraction of lithium from clays in North America, and even more so now that Chinese LFP production in the March 2021 quarter alone almost eclipsed the entire 2020 production.
The lithium and phosphorus required to manufacture LFP are both produced by SiLeach as a single lithium chemical. It has been shown that the lithium phosphate product from SiLeachcan be directly used in the manufacture of LFP cathode powder.
“We invite anyone with a lithium mica or clay deposit to reach out and see what we can offer; also, those cathode producers interested in discussing a more direct route to LFP synthesis using our proprietary VSPC cathode powder production technology.”
SiLeach is a fluorine-assisted, acid-leach recovery process designed specifically for lithium mica minerals. It should be noted that although fluorite (naturally occurring calcium fluoride) is added to enhance the process, the micas themselves, during decomposition, release significant quantities of fluorine, since they may initially contain up to 8% or more fluorine as part of their makeup.
Unlike other processes, the SiLeach flowsheet design contains specific fluorine removal and control steps, in order to optimise the handling of fluorine generated during the decomposition of the mica minerals.
Superior water balance is also a key attribute of the flowsheet, which is capable of recovering lithium from the dilute process liquors generated during the SiLeach process. This approach eliminates much of the requirement for evaporation, which is a high capital and operating cost of competing systems.