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To achieve its ends, LIT is:
- procuring access to feed materials with low exposure to mining costs;
- processing materials considered waste by other operators;
- developing strong strategic partnerships, and
- maintaining equity in resource projects globally.
SustainabilityLIT believes sustainability equates to viability with respect to both the manufacture and disposal of lithium-ion batteries (LIBs).
Aside from processing ore rejected as waste by other mining operations, LIT ‘s disruptive extraction technologies could be part of the solution to battery recycling, in that stockpiles of discarded electronic/battery waste may actually be the best and cheapest source of essential energy metals (among them lithium and cobalt) that have already been mined and concentrated to manufacture the LIBs.
Resource securityLIT recognises the need for resource security when developing SiLeach® processing hubs and, as a result, has taken positions in major lithium provinces around the globe.
Further, LIT is negotiating farm-out positions on a number of its exploration properties in return for first right of refusal on product generated from those areas, thereby retaining access to the supply chain without spending high-risk exploration dollars to realise reserves.
Finally, LIT maintains a watching brief globally, to identify projects that fit its exploration and development profile
About lithiumLithium (chemical symbol ‘Li’) is a soft, silvery-white alkali metal. The third element on the periodic table (after hydrogen and helium), it has the atomic number 3. It’s density is about half that of water, making it is the least dense of the solid elements. While lithium does not occur freely in nature and makes up only 0.0007% of the earth’s crust, it’s found in nearly every igneous rock and also in mineral springs.
Commercial applicationsLithium was first produced commercially in 1923. Aside from its use, historically, as a mood-stabilising medication, it’s also an efficient heat-transfer agent. Indeed, lithium and its compounds are intrinsic to numerous commercial applications, among them the manufacture of high-temperature lubricants, high strength-to-weight alloys (used, for example, in aircraft), heat-resistant glass and ceramics and, in the form of lithium hydroxide, as a means of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere of spacecraft.
In the 21st century, lithium’s electrochemical potential makes it a vital component of lithium-ion (‘Li-ion’) batteries. Li-ion batteries do have limitations in terms of cost, safety and stability; however, their energy-to-weight ratio, ability to be recharged many times over, and slow loss of charge when not in use have led three industry groups in particular – electric vehicles (‘EVs’), consumer electronics and the energy sector – to promote research and development into this battery technology.
Drivers of demandThe need for alternatives to fossil fuels, advances in electric transportation, innovations and growth in the communication and consumer electronics spheres, the use of renewables and concomitant demand for both fixed and portable power storage, the advent of smart grids, the growth of infrastructure-sharing by utilities and consumers and the expansion of the ‘energy internet’ – all will drive demand for lithium far into the future.
SourcesCurrently, the supply of lithium globally is derived mostly from brines and hard-rock deposits (around 50% for each provenance).
Lithium-containing brines are magmatic in origin and generally associated with volcanic events. The brines are found in the desert areas of Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, the US and China. Lithium from brines (which is of a low grade) is concentrated by solar evaporation from soluble salts. Capital input for producing lithium from brines is high but subsequent operating costs are low.
Hard-rock deposits (high-grade lithium ores)
In Australia, Canada, Zimbabwe and Portugal, conventional mining techniques are used to produce lithium from pegmatites containing high-grade spodumene and petalite. With this form of production, capital input is low but operating costs are high.
Lithium can also be extracted from hectorite (a rare white clay from volcanic sources). Mines for this type of production are currently in development; however, the lithium feed grades will be low and the economics of the recovery methods are yet to be vindicated.
Lithium Australia NL has developed, and aims to apply, patented processing technology – the Sileach™ process – to lithium micas (until now a forgotten resource) and in so doing produce commercial quantities of battery-grade lithium carbonate. To date, the Company’s research suggests that such production will be characterised by low energy inputs and high by-product credits, with low capital and operating costs.
The Sileach™ process can also recover lithium from other silicates. To that end, Lithium Australia NL is involved in an ongoing research programme that has advanced as far as pilot plant testing.
Commercial production by country
About SiLeach®SiLeach® is an unparalleled processing environment that efficiently digests and recovers all significant metal values from the minerals treated. Thus, it can be applied to a wide range of lithium feedstock, with low energy consumption, high metal recoveries and extensive by-product credits.
Further, SiLeach® has applications beyond the recovery of lithium from silicates. It has, for example, been tested on refractory gold ores to remove siliceous gangue material from the ore prior to cyanide recovery of gold. Therefore, SiLeach® could well become the benchmark for extraction of a wide range of metals from silicates.
The fundamentalsDuring conventional processing, lithium is recovered only from spodumene concentrates, not lithium micas, which until now have been something of a ‘forgotten’ resource.
Conventional processing to extract lithium also incorporates an energy-intensive ‘roasting’ phase, occurring at temperatures of more than 1,000˚C, followed by ‘sulphation bake’, undertaken at about 250˚C. Once the residue produced is cooled and leached with water, only lithium (as a sulphate) is recovered, and it is then further processed to produce lithium carbonate.
Unlike conventional processing, SiLeach® is a hydrometallurgical process, so no roasting phase is required, which reduces energy consumption. Moreover, there is potential for SiLeach® to derive all its energy requirements from waste heat generated during the production of sulphuric acid, which would further reduce operating inputs.
With SiLeach®, a combination of sulphuric acid and halides is used to dissociate the strong bonds in silicate lattices at atmospheric pressure, meaning that only simple mechanical components are necessary to conduct the process. Reactions occur rapidly at about 90˚C, which is also a distinct advantage in terms of constraining plant footprint and reducing capital costs.
Also unlike conventional processing, all metals within the target minerals are soluble in SiLeach®, creating the opportunity to generate significant by-product credits. Finally, SiLeach® produces very clean lithium solutions, an advantage in terms of the subsequent production of battery-grade lithium carbonate.
North AmericaElectra project – Sonora, Mexico
The Electra project (LIT 54%, Alix Resources Corporation 46%) is a farm-in and joint venture in which LIT can earn up to 65% of the project from its Canadian-based partner Alix Resources Corporation. LIT moved to a controlling stake in the project in October 2017, following a successful drill programme that confirmed a new, 2.5-kilometre (‘km’) long mineralised zone at this Mexican lithium clay project. View more
MetalsTech – Quebec, Canada
LIT has formed a technology alliance with MetalsTech Limited (‘MTC’). The latter company aims to identify, acquire, explore and develop high-grade hard-rock lithium projects in Quebec, Canada and has also begun exploring for cobalt since it listed. LIT was a seed investor in MTC, with a view to establishing a partnership and collaborative agreement for the use of LIT’s proprietary lithium-extraction technologies, including further development of the technology specific to the spodumene at MTC’s projects in Quebec. A technology licence agreement exists between the companies and LIT was issued a further 1 million shares when MTC listed on the Australian Securities Exchange on 24 February 2017. LIT now holds a total of 2 million shares (2.43%) in MTC, with the ability to increase that holding subject to certain milestones under the technology licence agreement. View more
EuropeSadisdorf – Saxony, Germany
LIT has entered into a memorandum of understanding (‘MoU’) and now a joint venture agreement with unlisted Tin International AG (a subsidiary of German-listed Deutsche Rohstoff AG) to form the Tin International Joint Venture, which pertains to the Sadisdorf deposit in Saxony, Germany. To date, Tin International AG has received a one-off payment of €50,000 and 1.72 million LIT shares. LIT has the right to earn 15% of the proposed incorporated joint venture company by spending a total of €750,000, either on exploration or as a cash payment to Tin International AG by 30 June 2018. By investing a further €1.25 million over a 3-year period, LIT earns the right to increase its interest in the joint-venture company to 50%. View more
AustraliaLIT/PLS technology alliance View more
Venus Metals MoU View more
Hillside View more
Goldfields region, Western Australia View more
Coolgardie Rare Metals Venture (‘CRMV’) View more
Goldfields Lithium Alliance View more
Seabrook Rare Metals Venture (‘SRMV’) View more
Ravensthorpe View more
Greenbushes View more
Stanifer View more
Gascoyne View more
Lake Johnston View more
Cobalark View more
Cape York region, Queensland View more
Cape York View more
Amber View more
Cobree View more
Bynoe, Northern Territory View more
Kangaroo Island, South Australia View more
Board and management
Managing director – Adrian Griffin
Having spent more than 40 years in mining, Mr Griffin’s expertise ranges from project identification, development and financing to overseeing the operation of integrated mining and processing facilities. His substantial international experience includes diamond exploration and production and being a founder and technical director of Ferrum Crescent, an iron-ore developer in South Africa.
Mr Griffin was also a founding director of Northern Minerals and Parkway Minerals (developer of the K-Max™ process to recover potassium and other metals from glauconite) and is a non-executive director of Reedy Lagoon Corporation. Most recently, he has been instrumental in identifying the global opportunity to establish lithium micas as a source feed for the lithium chemical industry.
Company secretary and CFO – Barry Woodhouse
For some 25 years, Mr Woodhouse has been involved in manufacturing, mining services, exploration, mine production (gold, oil and gas, iron ore, bauxite, lithium, copper, uranium and manganese) and information technology in his roles as, variously, chairman, director, CFO, financial controller and/or company secretary of a number of listed and private entities.
His career has granted him exposure to a number of jurisdictions, including the US, Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Europe and India. In general, Mr Woodhouse involves himself with a company while it is establishing or redefining its investment strategy.
Non-executive director – Bryan Dixon
Mr Dixon boasts substantial experience in the mining sector and the management of public and listed companies. He previously held positions with KPMG, Resolute Samantha Limited, Société Générale and Archipelago Resources Plc.
Currently, Mr Dixon is also a non-executive director of Hodges Resources Limited and of Blackham Resources Limited. A chartered accountant, his project development, project acquisition, financing and corporate skills are of significant benefit to the Company.
Non-executive chairman – George Bauk
Mr Bauk’s 25+ years of mining industry experience include particular expertise in critical metals. Skilled in strategic management, business planning, the establishment of high-performing teams and capital-raising, he has held senior operational and corporate positions with WMC Resources and Arafura Resources and was managing director of Indigo Resources (formerly Western Metals).
Since 2010, Mr Bauk has been managing director and CEO of Northern Minerals, overseeing that company’s heavy-rare-earth project in northern Australia. This has involved organising a successful greenfields exploration programme, obtaining government approvals for production and co-existence agreements with traditional owners, initiating a definitive feasibility study and establishing off-take agreements with international suppliers, as well as substantial fund-raisin. Such activities have granted him valuable exposure to critical metals markets – experience that’s now directly applicable to advancing the activities of Lithium Australia.
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