MinRes, Lithium Aust start LieNA pilot


Staff reporter

Pilot testing of lithium extraction technology described by Australian mid-tier miner Mineral Resources as a “potential game-changer” is underway at ANSTO (Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation).

MinRes announced a joint agreement with LieNA technology owner, Lithium Australia, last August under which it would fund development and operation of a pilot plant and an engineering study for a demonstration plant. It would also supply raw materials for testing.

Lithium Australia says its LieNA technology could enhance hard-rock lithium extraction yields by up to 50% compared with current methods. It had previously been tested at laboratory scale.

It said this week a new pilot batch autoclave had received a MinRes spodumene sample.

Successful completion of piloting and an engineering study could see Lithium Australia and MinRes form a 50:50 joint venture to commercialise LieNA through a licensing model. The JV would own the technology and license it to third parties at a “target headline gross product royalty rate of 8%”.

Lithium Australia said the first licence issued by the JV would be for the demonstration plant independently funded and built by MinRes post a satisfactory piloting phase.

“The planned JV and licensing model with MinRes can capture a significant opportunity in the lithium market,” Lithium Australia CEO Simon Linge said.

“LieNA has potential application at new and existing lithium mines, with the royalty model expected to materially expand the company’s addressable market by capturing a fee on all tonnage processed utilising the LieNA technology.”

“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 added: “We are thrilled by the formation of a new partnership with Mineral Resources, one of Australia’s largest and most prominent mining companies.

“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.”

 

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