The Asia Miner

JAN-MAR 2019

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

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the asia miner • volume 16 • issue 1 27 WASTE TO ENERGY Underground mine pilots new technology for better sludge clean up The Moranbah North coal mine is uঞlising Australian manufacturing technology to effecঞvely and easily clean up sludge and slurries. Located in the Bowen Basin in Central Queensland, the mine has taken delivery of a new hydraulics fied version of Brain Industries' self-filling tanker. Brain's managing director, Gillian Summers, said the tanker is an advancement on Brain's air driven model. The new six cubic metre tanker has been produced in response to calls from the underground mining industry for more versaঞlity. Powerful jet pumps mean that Brain's self-filling tankers vacuum-load conঞnuously to achieve high loading rates. It is constructed aluminium free to comply with mining regulaঞons. "While the new hydraulics version was produced for underground mines, our self-filling tankers are also suited to applicaঞons in hard rock mining, tunnelling and contract cleaning services," Ms Summers said. Loading stops automaঞcally at high level when handling wet materials. Excess water can be drained from the tailgate valves to allow top-up of load maximising hauled solids. A 250mm diameter dump hatch or full-sized rear door can be used. Brain's self-filling tankers can be skid-mounted or trailer-mounted. The skid-mounted unit can be transported on a flatbed trailer or truck using the side-accessed forkli[ sockets. The mulঞ-purpose vehicle (MPV) unit can also be transported above ground this way. The Moranbah North mine, 88 per cent owned by Anglo American, is no stranger to innovaঞve undertakings. In 2011, Clarke Energy was contracted to undertake the 'turnkey' design and construcঞon of the Moranbah North Power Staঞon on behalf of EDL Energy. The staঞon uses coal mine methane gas from Anglo Coal's mining operaঞon. The properঞes of this gas deliver a methane level which varies from 50 – 90 per cent. Coal mine gas has a global warming potenঞal 21 ঞmes that of Carbon Dioxide. Lithium Australia's wholly owned subsidiary, VSPC has successfully produced Li-ion baery (LIB), cathode material, and Li-ion baeries from tri- lithium phosphate produced directly from mine waste using the SiLeach® process. The tri-lithium phosphate was converted to lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) cathode material at the advanced electrochemical laboratory and pilot plant facility in Brisbane, Queensland operated by VSPC. The proprietary processes used to generate the LFP nanoparঞcles is covered by patents granted to VSPC. This groundbreaking process removes the requirement for generaঞon of high-purity lithium hydroxide or carbonate which has long been one of the most cost-intensive and challenging steps in the manufacture of LIBs. The cathode material was characterised by XRD and SEM, and determined to be of similar quality to VSPC standard LFP material. LIBs (2032 coin cells) were subsequently produced and tested under a range of charge and discharge condiঞons, with the cells achieving equivalent performance to VSPC's advanced cathode powders which use lithium carbonate as the manufacturing feed. Baery performance compares very favourably against cells using standard VSPC cathode material produced with industry standard lithium carbonate. The demonstrated ability to bypass lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide as baery precursors, provides potenঞal to significantly reduce the cost baery manufacture. Addiঞonally, the use of mine waste in the baery producঞon cycle can provide greater sustainability to global lithium resources. Lithium Australia is also developing the process for direct producঞon of cathode powders from lithium brines, to eliminate the requirement to produce high-purity lithium hydroxide or carbonate and to reduce the requirement for evaporaঞon ponds. Lithium Australia Managing Director, Adrian Griffin said the remarkable outcome was a credit to Lithium Australia's development team. "The most notable aspect of this achievement is its simplicity and ability to streamline the processes and cost required to produce LIB cathode materials," Mr Griffin said. "The broader applicaঞon to lithium brine exploitaঞon provides enormous potenঞal for that part of the lithium industry by removing the cost intensive route to lithium hydroxide." Lithium Australia produces world-first Li-ion batteries from mine waste

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