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Lithium Australia poised for LieNA pilot plant as battery recycling booms

Updated: May 6

Lithium Australia announce fifth consecutive quarter of profit. Credit: File.

A record breaking 29 per cent increase in battery collection, an agreement with MinRes and the fifth consecutive quarter of gross profits have rounded a solid quarter for Lithium Australia. The company collected a whopping 413 tonnes of batteries last quarter, with higher-margin Lithium-ion batteries representing 44 per cent of collections that it will harvest lucrative battery metals from.

And the company says the per centage of lithium-ion batteries collected will likely grow on the back of partnerships with tier-1 electric vehicle manufacturers and large-scale community collectors such as Bunnings.

As part of the recycling program, which is run through the company’s wholly owned subsidiary Envirostream, 40 tonnes of mixed metal dust was sold during the quarter with another 40 tonnes stockpiled.

Although the sales were negatively impacted by reduced prices for metals such as cobalt and nickel, the company still managed top eke out a gross profit from sales of $261 000 for the quarter.

We were immensely proud to have signed the recent JDA with MinRes and are already seeing strong collaboration to date. We aim to begin piloting activities under the JDA as soon as possible. With continued growth of lithium-ion battery collections and improved operational efficiencies, we expect to achieve our goal of reaching cash flow breakeven within the recycling business. Lithium Australia chief executive officer Simon Ling

As part of the landmark joint development agreement (JDA) signed with Mineral Resources relating to Lithium Australia’s disruptive lithium extraction technology known as LieNA, the company has successfully drawn down $900k of initial funding from the $4.5 million convertible note issued by MinRes as part of the deal.

Lithium Australia management says the cash has been used to mature LieNA pilot plant planning with budgeting, scheduling of activities and governance principles all assessed as part of the combined effort between the companies.

The agreement will aim to commercialise LieNA technology which has the potential to enhance lithium extraction yields by up to 50 per cent over current market average performance.

LieNA seeks to create lithium battery chemicals via a chemical reaction rather than expensive roasting as is usually the case. Given its lower cost base, the company says it can potentially extract lithium economically from grades that would ordinarily end up in the waste dump.

MinRes has delivered the first batch of spodumene concentrate to the LieNA pilot plant with the remainder of the ore scheduled to arrive prior to pilot commencement, which is expected to begin once confirmation is received from Lithium Australia, MinRes, and the Australia Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.

Last month, final results from independent testing by Novonix Battery Technology Solutions found Lithium Australia’s lithium ferro phosphate (LFP) cathode material to be of high quality – either matching or exceeding competitor products across the key parameters of capacity, stability and high temperature performance.

Lithium Australia’s cash and listed investments at the end of the quarter sat at $7.9 million with its sale of listed holdings adding a cool $550 000 to the company’s coffers.

Lithium Australia was developing lithium technologies long before the market caught on and fully grasped the opportunities around it. The company has been in the vanguard of players seeking to eke out a position in the market and with LieNa very close now to being proven in a semi-commercial environment, another of Lithium Australia’s long-term visions might be about to come to fruition.

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