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MinRes invests in lithium extraction technology

Mineral Resources (MinRes) and Lithium Australia have entered a joint development agreement to further develop technology that has the potential to revolutionise lithium extraction.

MinRes will invest $4.5 million in Lithium Australia to fund the development and operation of a pilot plant, an engineering study for a demonstration plant, and will supply the raw materials.

As per the agreement, Lithium Australia will contribute its patented LieNA technology, which it said has the potential to enhance lithium extraction yields by up to 50 per cent over current market performance.

The LieNA technology is underpinned by recovering lithium from fine and low-grade spodumene that is usually disposed of as waste streams to improve mining efficiency, sustainability and potential profitability.

Lithium Australia will also manage the pilot plant’s production process. If the pilot plant’s results are successful, MinRes and Lithium Australia will form a 50:50 joint venture (JV) to own and commercialise the LieNA technology through a licensing model.

Under the potential JV, MinRes can elect to sole fund, develop and operate a demonstration scale plant that will aim to extract lithium salt at a commercial scale.

“Lithium Australia’s LieNA technology has the potential to significantly boost lithium extraction efficiency from hard rock mines,” MinRes chief executive of lithium Joshua Thurlow said.

“Our preliminary testing with Lithium Australia has yielded promising results and warranted this investment to further develop the technology. The goal is to fast track the commercialisation of LieNA to drive efficiencies and initially extract more value from our two world-class lithium operations in Western Australia.”

Lithium Australia chief executive officer Simon Linge said the company is thrilled to be partnering with MinRes.

“MinRes is the perfect partner to complement our leading lithium extraction technology, given its extensive owned operations and strategic movement downstream into the battery materials sector,” Linge said.

MinRes also recently invested $$26.6 million in Binding Solutions in order to reduce energy use and emissions during the production of iron ore pellets.

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