The LieNA® process developed by Lithium Australia in collaboration with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) can reduce the footprint of mining operations, recover lithium from fine and variable-grade spodumene that otherwise reports to waste or tailings streams during current concentration processes, lessen environmental impacts overall and enhance sustainability.
On April 6, 2020, the company was granted Patent Number 2017306576 with priority details 2016903041, effective from August 2, 2016, and has now received positive feedback on the patentability of the technology's second-generation.
This feedback is within a report from the International Preliminary Examining Authority, which notes that all claims in the patent application are considered novel, involve an inventive step and are industrially applicable.
Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said: "Further recognition of Lithium Australia’s 100%-owned LieNA® technology by the International Preliminary Examining Authority has followed close on the heels of the Federal Government’s grant to the company for the construction of a pilot plant that will advance the process towards commercialisation.
“Recovering material that would otherwise go to waste is a fundamental building block in Lithium Australia’s quest to enhance sustainability, reduce costs and negate environmental impacts throughout the battery production cycle.
“If we, as a society, want to maintain current living standards, we cannot afford to squander resources and need to minimise our environmental footprint.
“Commercialisation of LieNA® will take the lithium industry one step closer to achieving that goal."
Leveraging off this positive endorsement, the application will now progress into a National Phase assessment in jurisdictions in which the company seeks legal protection.
Additionally, Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews announced in February that the company was a successful CRC-P grant recipient for Round 8.
This means that Lithium Australia will receive $1.3 million from the CRC-P round 8 program to progress to the next development stage of its second-generation LieNA® technology.
Lithium Australia and ANSTO have completed extensive test work on the technology, and the company is confident of committing to semi-continuous pilot-plant evaluation of the flowsheet, which is the scope of the CRC-P program.
The total project cost is expected to be $3.6 million.