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New Lithium Australia boss sets sights on development

Updated: May 6

New Lithium Australia managing director Simon Linge. Credit: File

Newly-appointed Lithium Australia managing director Simon Linge has vowed to fast-track the company’s development as the Perth-based battery innovator moves to commercialise its patented technologies.

Mr Linge has more than 25 years of global manufacturing, recycling and engineering services experience and as the company’s chief executive officer, contributed to the landmark development agreement signed earlier this month with mining heavyweight Mineral Resources.

Following the retirement of former Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin in May last year, Mr Linge worked in the background with the company for six months before officially being appointed chief executive officer in January. He previously also held the position of executive general manager of contract manufacturing company Pact Group, where he led an Australia-wide, 300-person team across seven manufacturing sites to transform the business into a profit-maker. Pact’s main business is packaging reuse and recycling across the circular economy.

Mr Linge had also been the managing director and chief executive officer of mining industry supplier Bradken, where he produced similar results. He said he was “honoured” to be promoted to the Lithium Australia board and would immediately get to work on building the company.

In my brief tenure as CEO, the Company has already made significant achievements, including the recently announced joint development partnership with Mineral Resources. I am excited to continue contributing to the Company’s next phase of development and building long term value for shareholders. Lithium Australia chief executive officer and managing director Simon Linge

Company chairman George Bauk said the board was confident in Mr Linge’s ability to execute long-term strategic objectives.

“Mr Linge has an impressive track record and a wealth of experiences spanning the manufacturing industry and circular economy, perfectly positioning him to push the Company forward in commercialising our key patented technologies,” Mr Bauk said.

The deal signed this month with MinRes provides a strong starting point for Mr Linge and sent Lithium Australia’s share price through the roof, with its stock doubling on the news as the market mirrored the mining juggernaut’s faith in the company.

MinRes has agreed to help progress Lithium Australia’s lithium extraction technology “LieNA” by solely funding the development and operation of a pilot plant up to the value of $4.5 million, in addition to providing the raw materials.

Lithium Australia will bring to the party its LieNA technology, which has the potential to recover lithium from fine and low-grade spodumene that is usually dumped as waste. The company will also manage the pilot plant’s production process. Management says the technology has the potential to enhance lithium extraction yields by up to 50 per cent more than current market performance.

Subject to the pilot plant results, MinRes and Lithium Australia will form a 50:50 joint venture (JV) to own and commercialise the LieNA technology through a licensing model. The JV plans to license the technology to third parties at a target headline gross product royalty rate of 8 per cent.

Management says the royalty model materially expands Lithium Australia’s addressable market as it has the potential to capture a fee on all tonnage processed via any mine utilising the LieNA technology.

The company also recycles critical minerals from used batteries through its subsidiary Envirostream – the first onshore company in Australia to offer mixed battery recycling. The minerals are used to produce new batteries through another Lithium Australia subsidiary called VSPC, which is based near Brisbane.

On the patented technology front, the company has been developing “SiLeach” to recover all metals within target minerals using hydrometallurgy rather than the conventional and energy-intensive roasting process. SiLeach represents an opportunity to recover lithium from not only spodumenes, but also from forgotten waste products such as lithium micas.

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