Australia making waves with lithium

Australia may not yet manufacture lithum ion batteries in any quantities but companies continue to make progress tackling various parts of the production process.

This week Altech Chemicals (ASX:ATC) was invited to construct a high purity alumina (HPA) plant in the German state of Saxony.

The company, which is completing a similar plant in Malaysia, was asked by the local government to build the state’s second HPA production plant.

A layer of HPA is used to coat lithium ion batteries making it a key part of the production puzzle.

Altech is now in talks with the state which aims to establish a major electric vehicle manufacturing industry.

Meanwhile materials group Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) completed the development of a process to recover spent lithium plus other metals such as nickle and cobalt from spent lithium ion batteries.

The process, developed in association with the Australia’s nuclear research group, ANSTO, generates lithium phosphate of greater than 99.9 per cent purity.

Expected lithium recoveries are greater than 85 per cent, with nickle and cobalt recovery above 90 per cent.

Lithium Australia collected the spent batteries and they were sredded by its part owned associate, Envirostream Australia.

The mixed metals recovered were processed using the company’s proprietary hydrometallurgical extraction process.

The material was turned into battery cathode at Lithium Australia’s pilot cathode plant in Brisbane.

Lithium managing director Adrian Griffin said the lithium re-birthing process was a huge step forward and offered the possibility of creating a circular economy around production, and recycling of lithium batteries

Griffin said: “Lithium Australia is investigating the commercial potential of this breakthrough.

“We are in discussion with consumers of lithium, nickle and cobalt both in Australia and overseas, and we see huge potential for a local battery recycling industry.”

Picture: Lithium Australia

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