Lithium Australia has made an exciting breakthrough by developing and patenting a revolutionary new process for extracting high-quality lithium carbonate from lithium-bearing materials. One of the principal advantages of the new lithium-extraction process is that it no longer requires the roasting stage of the process. This is extremely important because roasting, with its heavy power requirement, is one of the most costly aspects of the traditional process for extracting lithium. Another key advantage of the SileachTM process is that it makes possible the recovery of additional by-products that conventional approaches to the treatment of spodumene would not have made available.
Lithium Australia made its major breakthrough at its SileachTM pilot facility when it succeeded in using low-grade spodumene concentrate to produce a 99.8% pure form of lithium carbonate. To demonstrate the effectiveness of its new method, Lithium Australia deliberately elected to use concentrate grades that were lower than the typical grades that are in use commercially. As Andy Griffin, Lithium Australia’s managing director, noted, the capacity of the SileachTM process to yield high-quality lithium carbonate despite the use of highly contaminated spodumene concentrate represents a great step forward for the industry.
Lithium Australia has sole ownership of the SileachTM process but also observes that, alongside this game-changing technology, it also has many different processes with which to evaluate and find the best option for dealing with each specific ore type, local environment and infrastructure. The company also makes substantial investments in research and development, fruitfully collaborating with other organisations, both public and private. Adrian Griffin highlights the importance that Lithium Australia attributes to having full control over its own processes and feed-source. The SileachTM process will be a vital part of this strategy.