Lithium Australia closing the loop on the lithium production cycle
Lithium Australia NL (ASX: LIT) is an Australian lithium project generator and lithium extraction technology provider.
Western Australia is tipped to produce more than half of the world’s lithium supply by the end of this year (2018), as new mines come online and the world’s appetite for the materials used to make lithium ion batteries for electric vehicles grows.
Lithium Australia has projects and alliances in 4 countries including Australia, where they have projects in 3 states and the Northern Territory. The Company has established a regional footprint in Western Australia’s rapidly emerging, world-class, lithium province in the Pilbara region.
Lithium Australia’s flagship technology is SiLeach®. It is a superior processing technology that doesn’t need roasting (so less expensive processing) and is capable of extracting lithium from silicates. In the past those silicates were thrown away and still are, that’s because there was inadequate technology to produce at a profit. Lithium Australia has solved this problem by developing the SiLeach® process.
The Company have a 50/50 agreement with Pilbara Minerals Limited (PLS) with the aim of producing lithium carbonate or lithium hydroxide from a SiLeach® processing plant fed by PLS’s spodumene concentrate. SiLeach® is an unparalleled processing technology that efficiently digests and recovers all significant metal values from the minerals treated. This also enables the Company to take advantage of existing infrastructure that PLS already have in place such as gas, power, water, roads and permits. Managing Director Adrian Griffin stated: “We are all about closing a loop and making sure a lot of these materials that otherwise wouldn’t get processed, and when they do get processed, actually stay in their manufacturing cycle.”
In recent weeks the company applied for two global patents relating to the production and recovery of lithium phosphate and lithium sulphate from lithium-bearing silicates. The enhancements will reduce capital and operating costs and improve product quality. Adrian Griffin added: “For us it is the silver bullet because potentially it reduces capital costs and operating costs, so that’s quite significant”.
In June 2018, Lithium Australia purchased the Sadisdorf Lithium/Tin Project in Saxony, Germany from Tin International AG. The inferred resource at Sadisdorf in Germany now stands at 25 million tonnes grading 0.45% lithium. Lithium Australia has found ‘extensive’ copper vein systems at their Eichigt project in Germany, discovering not only copper but lithium and cobalt within the vein. Recent samples have included grades of 1.5% cobalt, 0.5% copper, and 0.7% lithium. Lithium Australia’s purchase of Sadisdorf further aligns it to the European EV industry.
Lithium Australia’s subsidiary, VSPC (an acronym for the ‘Very Small Particle Company’), can ‘tailor’ cost-effective cathode formulations for lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, and other complex metal oxides for use as catalysts in the automotive and minerals processing industries, and as components of solar photovoltaic and fuel-cell electrodes, electronic displays and many other applications. Market forecasts conservatively project that demand for the cathode materials in Li-ion batteries will exceed US$10 billion by 2025.
Lithium Australia has a market cap of AU$ 42.8m.
The Company has grown its resource base and developed a world-class processing technology called SiLeach®. The group is developing the capabilities to capitalize on all major sectors of the lithium supply chain and in so doing closing the loop in the lithium production cycle. Lithium Australia has made substantial ground in the last 12 months in achieving its goal of developing an integrated lithium company. This is definitely a stock to watch.
Matthew Bohlsen is a Senior Editor for InvestorIntel.com. With a Graduate Diploma in Applied Finance and Investment, and a Graduate Diploma in Financial Planning. He ... <Read more about Matthew Bohlsen>