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Corporate Spotlight

Lithium Australia NL (LIT, formerly Cobre Montana NL) is a developer of disruptive lithium extraction technologies. LIT has strategic alliances with a number of companies, potentially providing access to a diversified lithium mineral inventory.
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Lithium Australia's LieNA® technology opens up lithium chemical conversion opportunities 

ASX Announcement 22 August 2019 


  • Lithium Australia’s 100% owned LieNA® technology provides a range of highpurity lithium battery chemicals from spodumene feeds without the need for roasting. 
  • Potential lithium chemical suite includes high-purity phosphate, hydroxide sulphate or chloride. 
  • Preliminary feasibility study programme commenced.

Lithium Australia NL (ASX: LIT, 'the Company') aims to deliver sustainable processing and production options for the lithium-ion battery ('LIB') industry while reducing the environmental footprint of that industry. The Company’s LieNA® technology, derived from several years of research and development ('R&D') undertaken in collaboration with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation ('ANSTO'), has recently transitioned from a scoping study to preliminary feasibility study assessment.

The Company's LieNA® technology avoids conventional high-temperature treatment (calcination) of spodumene concentrates and, unlike conventional conversion processes, is not constrained by particle feed size. Rather, it uses an alkaline source, such as caustic soda, at the temperature and pressure required to convert the mineral spodumene to a lithium-bearing sodalite phase. The sodalite is then recovered and selectively leached to produce a lithium-bearing solution that is further treated to produce a high-purity, refined tri-lithium phosphate ('LP') product.

LieNA® offers a number of advantages in terms of spodumene processing, including the following. 

  • The ability to process fine spodumene feed stocks, which are currently problematic for conventional convertors and mineral concentrate producers. 
  • Production of high-purity battery chemicals without the need to produce sodium sulphate as a by-product, as is the case for conventional thermal spodumene converters. (It is expected that, longer-term, conventional converters will encounter issues in relation the sale or disposal of sodium sulphate as a byproduct of lithium hydroxide production.) 
  • The option to produce a suite of lithium chemicals, including lithium phosphate, hydroxide, sulphate or chloride, from a single refinery. 
  • Direct production of lithium-ferro-phosphate ('LFP') cathode materials from LP by way of Lithium Australia's 100% owned and patented VSPC Ltd cathode powder synthesis methods.

During a recent visit to China, the Company received enquiries for the potential supply of both LP and LFP. 

In summary 

Lithium Australia, through its R&D at ANSTO, has also developed a method of refining intermediate LP that results in an order of magnitude reduction in potassium, sodium, sulphur and other contaminants (as reported on 5 March 2019), with the refined product greater than 99.9 wt% LP. 

Both provisional patent and Patent Cooperation Treaty applications have been lodged for LieNA® as a part of the Company’s intellectual property protection strategies.

Comment from Lithium Australia MD Adrian Griffin 

"The production of lithium concentrates from spodumene results in the generation of a large amount of fine spodumene that cannot be used as feed for conventional lithium 'converters' (factories that produce lithium chemicals from spodumene). In fact, the fine material discharged as waste during the concentration process may contain up to 50% of the lithium value. Lithium Australia's LieNA® technology is a sustainable processing solution capable of recovering much of the lithium from fine spodumene waste.” 

"Not only does the LieNA® technology provide greater sustainability but it can also supply direct feed for the production of LFP cathode materials, a chemistry ideally suited to energy storage applications."

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Lithium recycled from spent batteries 

ASX Announcement 13 August 2019 


  • Refined lithium phosphate ('LP') successfully produced using spent lithium-ion batteries ('LIBs') as a feed material. 
  • Production of lithium-ferro-phosphate ('LFP') cathode powder from the recycled LP underway. 
  • Coin cells will be produced to test performance of the re-birthed cathode materials. 
  • Nickel and cobalt recovered in a form suitable for commercial refining.

By successfully recovering battery metals, lithium in particular, from spent LIBs, Lithium Australia NL (ASX: LIT, 'the Company') can provide a sustainable solution to a major recycling challenge – that of batteries being consigned to landfill – and pave the way for the re-birthing of cathode materials.

The Company is pleased to provide an update on its latest recycling achievements.

Recovery of metal powder from spent LIBs 

Envirostream Australia Pty Ltd ('Envirostream' – 14.29% LIT-owned) shreds LIBs and separates the components for reuse in the battery and other industries. One of the products generated during that shredding process is mixed metal dust ('MMD'), derived largely from the battery electrodes. Envirostream has supplied the Company with MMD for recycling technology development studies, to recover the lithium in particular, but also cobalt, nickel and copper. Most commercial recycling processes do not recover lithium.

Lithium for re-birthing of battery cathodes 

LIT's commercial objective is to produce refined LP from spent LIBs and use it directly in the production of new LFP cathode material.

Other battery metals, including nickel and cobalt, have also been recovered in the process as a concentrate suitable as a feed for conventional refining processes.

Lithium recovered from the MMD in the form of LP was subsequently refined for use as a precursor in the production of LFP cathode powder. That was achieved via the Company's proprietary LP precipitation and refining technology, developed in collaboration with Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation ('ANSTO'). The composition of the refined LP product is summarised in Table 1 below.

The refined LP produced by LIT at ANSTO is the first batch to originate from recycled battery material. It will be converted to LFP at the Company’s 100%-owned VSPC cathode powder pilot plant, located in Brisbane, Australia. That LFP will used to make coin cells for performance testing of the cathode materials.

Comment from Lithium Australia managing director, Adrian Griffin 

“Currently, few recycling operations around the world can recover lithium from LIBs. LIT’s process has the potential to not only improve the sustainability of LIBs but also ease future supply constraints that may prove problematic to the industry. 

The Company's ability to employ LP in the direct generation of LFP is a significant technical achievement, one that reduces the number of process steps required to manufacture the cathode powder. That's great news, because LFP is the perfect battery configuration for energy-storage systems suitable for the harsh Australian environment.”

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Maiden discovery for Lithium Australia at Youanmi – drilling hits up to 3% lithium oxide

ASX Announcement 5 August 2019 


  • Assay results show significant lithium intersections: 
    • 8 m @ 1.39% Li2O from 8 m (19YMRC037) 
    • 7 m @ 1.42% Li2O from 20 m (19YMRC036) 
    • 6 m @ 1.64% Li2O from 11 m – includes 1 m @ 3.07% Li2O (19YMRC030) 
    • 6 m @ 1.54% Li2O from 1 m (19YMRC027) 
    • 5 m @ 1.57% Li2O from 13 m (19YMRC039) 
    • 5 m @ 1.20% Li2O from 31 m (19YMRC038). 
  • Drilling confirms mineralisation over 1,200 m of strike. 
  • Extent of shallow-dipping pegmatites greater than expected. 
  • Further assay results expected by month's end.

Lithium Australia NL (ASX: LIT) has an option to acquire full rights and title to three exploration licences at Youanmi in Western Australia (announced 2 October 2018) that contain lithium, caesium and tantalum ('LCT') pegmatites, as well as vanadium mineralisation in a nearby layered mafic complex.

Today, Lithium Australia is pleased to report the results of its maiden RC drilling programme within the Youanmi project area. Initial assay results include significant widths of high-grade lithium mineralisation.

Lithium drilling 

The maiden RC drilling programme (announced 25 June 2019) was designed to test down-dip extensions of outcropping lithium-bearing pegmatites where rock-chip samples yielding up to 4.2% Li2O had been identified and lepidolite mineralisation observed in RC drill cuttings.

So far, 54 RC holes have been completed for 2,455 m on the 3 km x 200 m lithium target. The first batch of assay results has reported significant widths of high-grade lepidolite mineralisation hosted in pegmatites. 

The extent of known lithium-bearing pegmatites has been extended by this maiden drilling programme. Encouragingly, the mineralisation is reported over good widths of high grade, is shallow and remains open down dip and along strike.

The drill programme targeted LCT pegmatites variably outcropping on surface over a strike of 3 km. Multiple intersections of the pegmatites have been reported down hole. The drill data suggests that the pegmatites have widths of up to 9 m and dip at shallow angles (up to 40°) towards the east.

The maiden drilling returned solid results, including 8 m @ 1.39% Li2O from 8 m, and 7 m @ 1.42% Li2O from 20 m. Other significant results include the following. 

A summary plan and typical cross-section are presented as Figures 1 to 3 in Appendix 1. Full drill-hole details to date, including significant intercepts, are presented in Tables 1 and 2 in Appendix 2. Information from the drilling programme will be used to assess the resource potential and geometry of the pegmatites. Lithium Australia expects to receive further assay results from the remaining 19 holes before the end of the month.

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Quarterly Activities Report for June 2019 Closing the loop on the energy metal cycle. 

ASX Announcement 1 August 2019 


Raw materials 

  • Youanmi maiden Vanadium resource announced of 185 Mt @ 0.33% V2O5. 
  • Vanadium metallurgical samples sent to ANSTO for test work 
  • Youanmi RC drilling intersects multiple lithium mineralised intervals 
  • Drilling completed subsequent to the end of the period 
    • Shallow lithium target 3km by 200 metres 
    • 54 RC holes for 2,455 metres on the 3km 
    • 47 of these holes contain visible lithium mineralisation 
    • First lithium assay results to be reported in August 
  • Medcalf prospect at Lake Johnston WA - spodumene pegmatite swarms with very low in deleterious elements identified


  • Lithium Australia invests further equity into Envirostream Australia recycling alliance. 
  • Next stage process development for recycled battery material underway at ANSTO. Pilot plant design commenced. 
  • Lithium phosphate to be generated from spent LIBs. 
  • Cathode powder to be regenerated using lithium recovered from spent LIBs.

Lithium chemicals 

  • Improved lithium refining techniques by the production of lithium phosphate. 
  • The use of lithium phosphate streamlines the production of lithium-ion battery cathode materials.

Lithium-ion batteries 

  • Lithium Australia forms alliance with leading battery producer DLG Battery Co Ltd 
  • VSPC cathode powders continue test program at DLG Battery Co Ltd 
  • Business plan completed for battery supply into the Australian market 
  • Soluna Australia Pty Ltd incorporated as battery distribution business 

Development Strategy 

Lithium Australia NL (ASX: LIT) has advanced its aim of developing an integrated business that capitalises on all major sectors of the lithium supply chain – and in so doing closes the loop on the energy metal cycle. 

Key elements of the Company's strategy include the following. 

  • Sourcing appropriate raw materials. 
  • Advancing its recycling technology to recover valuable metals, including lithium and cobalt, from spent batteries, protecting the environment in the process. 
  • Advancing its 100%-owned SiLeach® and LieNA® technologies, both of which are capable of converting mine waste to lithium chemicals. 
  • Employing its VSPC technology to convert lithium chemicals into lithium-ion battery cathode materials of superior quality

Lithium Australia's growing resource base complements its developing processing technologies, in that the latter can breathe new life into stranded assets. A prime example of this is the Sadisdorf deposit in Germany (an abandoned tin mine), in which the tin mineralisation is associated with lithium micas that, prior to the advent of SiLeach® , were of no commercial value. The SiLeach® process, which is capable of recovering lithium from these micas, adds significant value to this asset.

During the quarter, production of cathode materials, a lucrative element in the lithium-ion battery production cycle, continued at the Company's 100%-owned VSPC pilot plant, located in Brisbane. Samples of cathode powder produced there are currently being evaluated by international battery manufacturers including the DLG Battery Company (China). 

By integrating its SiLeach® and VSPC processes, Lithium Australia aims to establish a pathway from mine waste to lithium-ion battery manufacture. In the December 2018 quarter, Lithium Australia achieved a world first by creating a lithium-ion battery from waste rock; the performance of that battery compared very favourably with those manufactured using battery-grade lithium carbonate.

Click here to view the full announcement


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