Lithium Australia has received a notice of acceptance from federal government body, IP Australia, for a technology that improves the recovery of lithium from spodumene.
The technology, called LieNA, has been developed in collaboration with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) as a less energy-intensive alternative to conventional lithium extraction processes.
Lithium Australia’s LieNA technology enables the production of lithium concentrate from fine spodumene material that is often discharged as waste during traditional concentration processes.
Being able to use this spodumene allows the potential to expand current hard-rock lithium resources, thereby reducing mining costs and enhancing the sustainability of spodumene production and subsequent manufacture of lithium chemicals.
Another advantage to LieNA is it enables lithium chemicals such as lithium phosphate, hydroxide, sulphate or chloride to be produced from a single refinery.
Lithium Australia has also received notification from the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) that its patent application for the second generation LieNA process technology has been published.
Lithium Australia considers this to be a “significant” fourth step in the seven-step process for locking-in granted patents, which can take several years to achieve.
Company managing director Adrian Griffin said receipt of the notice was vindication of the value of its intellectual property.
“[This signifies] a positive next step towards granting of a patent for the LieNA process,” he said.
“Based on normal approval timing, [we] expect the patent to be granted by end of the second quarter, with legal protection for lasting 20 years from the date of filing of the application.”
Lithium Australia’s proprietary technologies include SiLeach and LieNA, which are used to generate lithium cathode materials from feedstock generally deemed as waste.