In doing this, the company will improve management and investor focus for each of its four business divisions — raw materials, lithium chemicals, batteries, and recycling.
A desired outcome of this rationalisation program is to allow investors to invest directly in the business divisions of their choice as stand-alone vehicles while still having exposure to the whole energy-metal cycle.
Reorganisation will also reduce costs
Lithium Australia’s managing director Arian Griffin said: “Reorganisation of the company’s business units and asset base will create more focused opportunities for investors with an appetite for the energy-metals and battery sectors.
“Lithium Australia will be able to reduce costs while continuing to deliver the benefits of its current research programs.
“This is critical in a market of depressed prices for battery commodities.”
Raw materials: rationalising tenement holdings
The company’s new raw materials divisional manager Mark Strizek is in the process of rationalising its tenement holdings across WA, NT, QLD and SA.
LIT plans to use its processing technologies to extract what have been historically considered waste materials such as lithium micas and fine spodumene.
To this extent, it is seeking partners for its 54% interest in the Electra Project in Mexico, its Greenbushes tenements in Western Australia, and Dudley Project in South Australia.
Lithium chemicals: seeking partners to commercialise processing technologies
LIT's lithium chemicals division comprises patented processing technologies such as SiLeach, and LieNA.
Notably, the company has already partnered with some of the best technical expertise available such as the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).
While the production of lithium phosphate is a common thread in the extraction technologies LIT has developed, there is also the ability to produce lithium hydroxide or carbonate as required.
LIT is seeking partners to commercialise its LieNA® process and has made a decision to delay any further investment in its SiLeach® processing technology.
Batteries and cathode materials: PFS results due in near-future
LIT is the sole owner of VSPC, a company with three families of patents covering novel processes for the production of LIB cathode powders.
Product testing of VSPC-produced battery materials with customers in Japan and China is ongoing and feedback to date has been positive.
A pre-feasibility study (PFS) for a 5,000 tonnes per annum cathode-material project has been completed, with its strategic recommendations the subject of internal review.
The results of the PFS will be released in the near future.
LIT and VSPC have also entered into an agreement with DLG to commercialise VSPC cathode powders in China, and develop a battery distribution business within Australia.
Recycling: amalgamating capabilities of LIT and EA
LIT's recycling division incorporates its 18.9% ownership of Australia's only domestic LIB recycling entity, Envirostream Australia (EA).
Together, LIT and EA are developing a national LIB recycling program with the ability to recover all of the battery metals, including the lithium, from spent batteries of this type.
Acceleration of the R&D program is a prelude to the restructuring of LIT’s recycling business, with the intention being to amalgamate the capabilities of LIT and EA.
EA is expanding its collection and processing capacity in line with the development of LIT’s process technology.
Nobel prize supports lithium-ion battery future
Griffin added: "We're pleased with our progress in all fields of the battery material market and look forward to a successful future as part of the fourth industrial revolution, a revolution initiated by John B Goodenough, who has, at 97 years of age, become the oldest recipient of a Nobel prize.
“He (along with two others) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his pioneering work on lithium-ion batteries, which have changed forever the way we manage energy.
“For many years the scientific community wondered why Goodenough's achievement had not been properly acknowledged, so it's gratifying to see that all things come to he (or she) who waits!”