He said: “Once the gravity of COVID-19 was better understood, the board focused on those of the company’s business units that were closest to commercialisation – recycling and the sale of energy storage systems.
“Those business units less close to commercialisation are now being reviewed, with the aim of achieving maximum value for shareholders.”
“Circular battery economy”
As the demand for renewable energy and energy-storage capabilities continues to grow, Lithium Australia is confident it is well-positioned to take advantage of this sector.
Bauk said: “Our strategy of creating a circular battery economy allows us to ensure an ethical and sustainable supply of energy metals to the battery industry across the entire supply chain.
“From exploration for raw materials through chemical processing technology, lithium ferro phosphate (LFP) cathode and battery production and stationary energy storage systems to spent-battery recycling, we are maximising the life of mined as well as previously used lithium units.”
Over the year, Lithium Australia increased its equity position in subsidiary Envirostream Australia from 11.76% to 90%.
Envirostream subsequently produced its first product and completed its first sales, having signed an offtake agreement with a metal refiner to sell the mixed metal dust concentrate recovered from spent batteries and commissioning expanded battery recycling facilities.
Bauk said: “After a number of successful trials, Envirostream is poised to begin recycling spent EV batteries.
“These achievements are a credit to the fully integrated team at Lithium Australia and Envirostream.”
Lithium Australia's Soluna solar banks.
Bauk said: “In December 2019, the company announced that our 50%-owned subsidiary Soluna Australia, established to sell lithium-ion batteries and Soluna energy-storage products into the rapidly expanding Australian renewable energy storage market, had finally done so.
“Following receipt of approvals from the Clean Energy Council in June 2020, Soluna recorded its first sale and oversaw installation in July 2020.
“It was a great effort in a short time frame to go from forming the joint venture to organising product delivery and approvals to making a sale and, finally, arranging installation.”
VSPC market opportunities
The company is confident that there is evidence of future growth in LFP as a lithium-ion battery chemistry as the LFP batteries are considered ‘safe’ and negate the requirement for fire suppression in electric vehicles (EVs) - making them the chemistry of choice for Tesla EV battery packs in China.
Bauk said: “Given the ongoing excellent results for LFP-based cathode material produced by Lithium Australia’s wholly-owned subsidiary VSPC during the year, the company will be in a position to take advantage of this growing market.
“VSPC has progressed its business over the past 12 months by optimising its process for the production of LFP cathode material, establishing a strong foundation from which to clearly map the pathway to commercialisation.
“LFP will continue to be seen as the battery technology of choice for many compelling reasons, including safety, cost, depth of discharge and environmental, social and governance factors, among them the safe production of raw materials.”
Commercialising cathode material
Lithium Australia’s goals for 2020 included plans for the commercial production of cathode material, as well as the securing of funding to implement commercialisation plans for its processing technologies, including LieNA®, and expansion of its recycling infrastructure.
Bauk said: “We secured that funding in December and recently completed a combined placement and share purchase plan, raising more than $8.5 million in the process.
“We are all very appreciative of the assistance of current and new shareholders in attaining this outstanding result.
“The funds raised will be used to accelerate Lithium Australia’s plans, including growth of the recycling business, and retiring the debt that came as part of the December funding package.”