The Asia Miner

OCT-DEC 2018

The ASIA Miner - Reporting Important Issues to Mining Companies in the Asia Pacific Region

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the asia miner • volume 15 • issue 4 21 WASTE TO ENERGY New bulk sample tests were undertaken at the laboratories of ANSTO Minerals (a division of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisaঞon) in Sydney, Australia, in a move that, potenঞally, could see waste material used to commercially enhance Western Australia's (WA) ranking as the world's largest lithium producer. The tests, at a new and specially built facility at ANSTO's Lucas Heights laboratories, were iniঞated by Perth-based Lithium Australia, which specialises in the development of processing technologies that deliver sustainable and ethical supply soluঞons to the baery materials industry. Lithium Australia conducted tests on concentrates derived from lithium mica, long considered waste material by the mining industry. The mica, sourced from one of two sites in WA's eastern Goldfields region, was assessed for its suitability as base feedstock for the company's proposed LSPP, on which work is anঞcipated to commence early in 2019. According to Lithium Australia, WA's world-class 'Lithium- fields' host abundant pegmaঞtes, many of which contain lithium micas. The company's pursuit of potenঞal feed sources for its LSPP has already idenঞfied lithium mica deposits in France and Germany, as well as the two deposits in the eastern Goldfields region. In Germany, a maiden resource has been defined under Lithium Australia's strategy to develop high-specificaঞon cathode materials and lithium-ion baery recycling technologies. Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin confirmed that the company had undertaken substanঞal bench-scale test work on lithium micas sourced from its 80 per cent-owned Lepidolite Hill deposit in the eastern Goldfields. "However, far less test work has been carried out on a second lithium mica-style Goldfields deposit, designated Waste2. Early laboratory tests show that concentrates produced from Waste2 have metallurgical characterisঞcs that vary from other micas tested," Mr Griffin conঞnued. "This is because the Waste2 concentrates are a mixture of muscovite (a common, low-lithium-content mica) and lepidolite (a common lithium mica). To help complete the final design parameters for the LSPP, a bulk concentrate from Waste2 was produced via froth flotaঞon, undergoing tesঞng at the newly constructed facility at Lucas Heights, which is based on Lithium Australia's proprietary SiLeach® processing technology. "This plant reflects our latest SiLeach® operaঞng condiঞons, including recovery of lithium by phosphate precipitaঞon", said Mr Griffin. In September, the company announced that Stage 1 of SiLeach® pilot plant trial achieved 94 per cent lithium extracঞon on a conঞnuous run, with Stage 2 commencing on ঞme and producing lithium phosphate within 16 hours of start-up. That same month, Lithium Australia recommissioned VSPC's Brisbane cathode powder plant that produces cathode material for use in the producঞon of lithium-ion baeries. The facility is Australia's only cathode powder pilot plant and baery-tesঞng facility. Having completed a number of pilot-plant producঞon runs, samples for lithium-ion baery-cell were produced for baery-cell makers in China. According to company reports, in-house tesঞng confirmed the high capacity of VSPC's LFP cathode material. "We are convinced that VSPC's elegant soluঞon to increasing lithium-ion baery efficiency is the best available for the producঞon of LFP cathode powders", said Mr Griffin. "The technology also has applicaঞons 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." Powering the world through waste New potential for waste materials to contribute to commercial lithium production

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