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Lithium Australia

Creating an ethical, secure and sustainable battery industry

This Lithium Australia profile is part of a paid investor education campaign.*

LIT:AU
ASX:LIT


Overview

Electric vehicle (EV) production is ramping up worldwide. According to the International Energy Agency, the global stock of EVs could reach 245 million units by 2030. Importantly, the EV industry is being touted as critical to the rapidly emerging green economy.

However, the environmental sustainability of the EV industry is not as clear-cut as many believe. In fact, its growth has generated many questions about how end-of-life lithium-ion batteries can be managed in ways consistent with the ethos of the green economy. Given that the volume of spent batteries from EVs and battery energy storage systems will grow sharply over the next decade, the matter is of real concern – it is predicted that the number of end-of-life lithium-ion batteries will exceed that of lead-acid batteries beyond 2040.

Currently in Australia, less than 10 percent of end-of-life lithium-ion batteries are made available for recycling. This has prompted the establishment of a battery stewardship initiative, which provides a strong financial incentive to recycle most types of spent batteries. The initiative, which is set to take effect in early 2022, encourages responsible battery management ... from design right through to end of life. Thus, Australian companies embracing environmentally sustainable lithium-ion battery supply and recycling present investors with an intriguing opportunity as they seek to leverage such financial incentives.

Lithium Australia NL (ASX: LIT) is a diversified battery materials company with strong ESG values. Led by an accomplished management team with decades of experience in the mining, mineral processing and chemical manufacturing industries, the company is committed to developing a sustainable circular economy for battery materials.

An investment in Lithium Australia provides exposure to the exponential growth of the lithium-ion battery industry worldwide and a geographic footprint with the potential to span several countries – Australia, China, the United States, India and the United Kingdom among them. The company has established an ethical, sustainable framework for lithium extraction, processing and recycling that encompasses joint-venture projects, strategic investments and a suite of proprietary technologies – underpinned by intellectual property (IP), including international patents – that creates a sustainable model for battery production.

According to company managing director Adrian Griffin, “Lithium Australia is the only ASX-listed company with a sustainable model for battery materials.”

Lithium Australia 4 Lithium-Batery Related Business

Lithium Australia has four lithium-battery related business divisions: raw materials, lithium chemicals, batteries and recycling. These can be summarised as follows.

With respect to raw materials, the company has progressively farmed out its exploration portfolio. In so doing, it has accumulated equity interests in the public companies now managing the projects. This reduces costs and enhances accessibility to lithium feedstock while providing shareholder value through potential economic returns.

Lithium Australia's lithium chemicals division has developed proprietary, energy-efficient technologies for the extraction of lithium from what is generally considered waste material by the mining industry. Foremost is LieNA®, a process that greatly improves the rate of recovery of lithium from spodumene. SiLeach®, meanwhile, recovers lithium from mine waste (specifically micas) and clays. Both technologies produce primary battery chemicals (lithium phosphate in particular) and are patented in Australia and internationally. The federal government has awarded Lithium Australia a grant to further develop its LieNA® process, and construction of a LieNA® pilot plant is underway.

The company's 100 percent owned subsidiary VSPC Ltd (VSPC) is a developer of advanced materials for lithium-ion batteries. VSPC, which has spent 20 years researching its proprietary, internationally patented nanotechnology, produces next-generation battery materials, including lithium ferro phosphate (LFP) and lithium manganese ferro phosphate (LMFP) cathode powders. VSPC's technology can harness lithium phosphate (produced by both LieNA® and SiLeach®) as a cathode powder precursor and thus has the potential to reduce the number of process steps required to convert lithium chemicals recovered from mine waste and spent batteries to materials for use in new lithium-ion batteries.

Lithium Australia's 90 percent owned recycling subsidiary Envirostream Australia Pty Ltd (Envirostream) is Australia's only authorised mixed-battery recycler and, as such, is well-positioned for the imminent roll-out of the national Battery Stewardship Scheme. Having established an Australia-wide collection network for mixed spent batteries (including at Bunnings stores in Australia and New Zealand) for recycling, Envirostream uses proprietary technology to extract higher yields (95 percent) from end-of-life lithium-ion batteries than any of its global competitors.

(For further details of each Lithium Australia business division, refer to 'Key assets' below.)

Company Highlights

  • Lithium Australia’s strategic investments in ASX-listed companies and its free-carried exploration interests provide exploration upside and low-risk exposure to raw materials for the battery industry.
  • The company’s patented lithium extraction technologies reduce the length of the supply chain from mining of raw materials through battery production to, ultimately, recycling.
  • Lithium Australia is one of the few companies outside China that provides direct exposure to the burgeoning LFP industry – and the only investment exposure to LFP on the ASX. Increased global demand for LFP-type lithium-ion batteries (particularly for EVs and battery energy storage systems), lack of LFP production in the West and strong domestic consumption of LFP within China are placing immense pressure on the availability of this battery material worldwide.
  • Lithium Australia is also one of the few companies worldwide to master the production of next-generation, higher-energy-output LMFP cathode material.
  • As the only licensed mixed-battery recycler in Australia, company subsidiary Envirostream stands to benefit from the imminent Australia-wide battery stewardship scheme, particularly in light of its recent battery-collection agreement with Bunnings.

Key Assets

Raw materials division

The company retains interests in the following Australian projects.

  • The Greenbushes South project in Western Australia – 20 percent free-carry until completion of a preliminary feasibility survey (manager: Galan Lithium Ltd (ASX: GLN)).
  • The Bynoe project in the Northern Territory – 30 percent free-carry until completion of a definitive feasibility study (manager: Charger Metals NL (ASX: CHR)).
  • The Coates project in Western Australia – 30 percent free-carry until completion of a definitive feasibility study (manager: Charger Metals NL (ASX: CHR)).

Lithium chemicals division: LieNA®

Lithium Australia’s LieNA® technology is patented in Australia and internationally. An energy-efficient process with no requirement for roasting, LieNA® targets lower-grade, fine spodumene feed that normally goes to waste. With LieNA®, lithium recovery rates are significantly higher than those of conventional lithium-chemical conversion methods, which generally result in a low recovery of 50 to 75 percent at the mineral concentrator.
Lithium Australia Flowchart

LieNA® has been recognised by the Australian federal government with the awarding a significant Cooperative Research Centres Project (CRC-P) grant for a LieNA® pilot plant, currently under construction in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Lithium Australia will initiate a pre-feasibility study on completion. The plant will process spodumene fines recovered from exploration drilling by Essential Metals Ltd (ASX: ESS) in Western Australia.

The company's LieNA® process has the potential to not only significantly improve resource and mine life and environmental sustainability within the lithium industry but also increase the availability of battery metals to meet future energy demand. Lithium Australia has sold its first licence for LieNA® and believes there is potential to issue further licences and/or consolidate the technology.

Batteries division: VSPC

One hundred percent Lithium Australia-owned subsidiary VSPC comprises a research and development facility in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia that includes a pilot plant and integrated, laboratory-scale battery production and testing equipment. The company has already completed a pre-feasibility study for the production of LFP cathode material (a definitive feasibility study for same is currently underway) and is also assessing the potential for the production of LMFP.

Lithium Australia VSPC Facilities
Lithium Australia NL VSPC Facilities

VSPC's pilot plant and production and testing facilities.

Globally, LFP production achieved triple-digit expansion in 2021, with installed capacity up by 400 percent. VSPC's intellectual property spans three families of patents, and its global patents for LFP production place it in a commanding position as the market for LFP burgeons. VSPC already has agreements to produce and commercialise cathode materials in China and its LFP cells are being tested by major battery producers internationally.

VSPC has also successfully developed commercial-quality lithium titanium oxide anode powder to complement its cathode battery materials, thereby creating new market opportunities and prompting VSPC to expand its research into other anode materials, such as titanium niobium oxide and other niobiom-based materials used in defence and space applications.

The Australian federal government has recognised VSPC's work by way of an Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre research grant of $1.5 million (designed to progress the nation's advanced battery capabilities), a CRC-P grant (to develop an advanced, nano-engineered battery for fast-charging, catenary-free trams) and an Australian Research Council grant (to research and develop electrolytes for solid-state lithium metal batteries).

Recycling division: Envirostream

Lithium Australia subsidiary Envirostream (90 percent Company owned) offers sustainable solutions for the disposal/recycling of mixed spent batteries, including end-of-life lithium-ion batteries. Envirostream's facilities, located near Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, are unique in the Antipodes, with yields from spent batteries higher than those of any of global competitor.

Lithium Australia Envirostream

In 2021, EPA Victoria granted Envirostream a 99-year operating licence for its activity site in Campbellfield. The prescribed activities allow Envirostream to reprocess specified electronic waste, including spent batteries, at a capacity exceeding 500 tonnes per annum. Further, Envirostream has been granted a land-use permit application for its new Laverton site, which increases its storage capacity by around 300 percent and its sorting capacity by around 100 percent. This puts Envirostream to the fore in terms of demand for the dismantling and recycling of EV and energy storage system batteries.

Envirostream has executed an exclusive contract with Bunnings for the collection of spent batteries. Bunnings and Envirostream have worked to ensure that drop-off points for such batteries within the Bunnings infrastructure are not only convenient for customers but also facilitate their efficient collection by Envirostream. Meanwhile, a permit has been issued to Envirostream to allow the import of 100 tonnes of mixed-waste batteries into Australia, allowing delivery of spent batteries from Bunnings' New Zealand stores.

Lithium Australia Bunnings and Envirostream

Sorting equipment at Envirostream's Laverton site.

Management team

Adrian Griffin – Managing Director

With 40 plus years of experience in the mining industry, Adrian Griffin's expertise includes project identification, development and financing, as well as oversight of integrated mining and processing facilities. He was a founding director of Northern Minerals NL (the first heavy-rare-earths producer outside China), a founding director of Parkway Minerals (developer of the K-Max™ process to recover potassium and other metals from glauconite) and a non-executive director of Reedy Lagoon Corporation Ltd. Griffin, who has particular expertise in minerals processing technology, identified unconventional sources of lithium (including mine waste) and developed the technology to process these and more conventional feedstocks, including spodumene. As managing director of Lithium Australia, Griffin is now focusing on the downstream production of lithium-ion battery components and the recycling of battery/e-waste to recover the energy metals within. In so doing, he is positioning the company for vertically integrated and sustainable delivery of lithium raw materials, processing technology and advanced battery materials, as well as critical metals extracted via battery recycling, the aim being to access the entire lithium-battery value chain and create a circular economy for same.

George Bauk – Non-Executive Chairman

George Bauk has spent more than 30 years working in the resource industry and over 15 as a listed company director. Bauk, whose qualifications include a Bachelor of Business (Accounting and Finance) from Edith Cowan University and an MBA from the University of New England, is a fellow of the CPA. He has been involved in mining exploration and production within Australia and overseas and has held global operational and corporate roles with Northern Minerals Ltd, WMC Resources Ltd and Western Metals Ltd. Bauk, who boasts a strong background in strategic management, business planning, team building, finance and capital-raising, is familiar with a variety of commodities, including critical minerals such as rare earths, lithium, graphite, gold and uranium. During his time as managing director of Northern Minerals Ltd, Bauk led that company’s rapid development from a greenfields explorer to one of the few global producers of high-value dysprosium outside of China. He previously held senior positions within the Chamber of Minerals and Energy, including as its vice-president.

Kristie Young – Non-Executive Director

Kristie Young holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Mining with Honours from the University of Queensland and a Postgraduate Diploma of Education in Mathematics and IT from the University of Western Australia. She is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and holds a CertIV HR from the Australian HR Institute. Her varied background includes more than 20 years spent across a range of sectors, including technical engineering, project evaluation, strategy, business development, growth, marketing, commercial, client management, governance and human resources. Before joining Lithium Australia, Young held senior growth and business development roles with leading professional services firms PwC and Ernst & Young. She is a non-executive chair with ChemX Materials and sits on the boards of Wesley College and the Energy Club of Western Australia.

Phil Thick – Non-Executive Director

Phil Thick has more than 30 years' experience as a senior executive with large multinationals in the oil and gas, mining and chemical processing industries, as well as with smaller ASX-listed and privately-owned companies, and has sat on many boards, both in non-executive director roles and as chairman. Thick enjoyed a 20-year career with Shell, in Australia and overseas. His last three years with the latter were spent on the board of Shell Australia as downstream director. This was followed by five years as a director and chief executive officer of Coogee Chemicals, then four as chief executive officer of New Standard Energy. During the past four and a half years, Thick headed up Tianqi Lithium Australia, a subsidiary of Tianqi Lithium Corp. out of China and one of the world’s largest lithium companies (Tianqi owns 51% of the Greenbushes spodumene mine in Western Australia). It was Thick whom Tianqi charged with building the world’s largest lithium hydroxide plant, in Kwinana, Western Australia, an investment of nearly A$1 billion. Thick also chairs the boards of the Chamber of Arts and Culture Western Australia and the Perth Symphony Orchestra.

Stuart Tarrant – Chief Financial Officer

Stuart Tarrant is a senior finance professional with more than 20 years' experience. He has worked in a range of industries, including mineral extraction and exploration, finance and agribusiness. Most recently, Tarrant was chief financial officer at Danakali Ltd, which is developing the Colluli potash project in Eritrea, East Africa. During his time with Danakali, Tarrant worked through the study phases of the financial model that underpinned its successful economic outcomes and negotiated material operating contracts. Previously, he held roles with BHP, Leighton Contractors and Great Southern Ltd and consulted for small- and mid-sized enterprises. At Lithium Australia, Tarrant's specific focus is value creation through fundraising, strategic analysis and governance and compliance.

Barry Woodhouse – Company Secretary

Barry Woodhouse has 25 years' experience across a variety of sectors, including with entities involved in manufacturing, mining services, exploration, information technology and mine production (gold, oil and gas, iron ore, bauxite, lithium, copper, uranium and manganese). His roles in various listed and private entities have included those of chairman, director, chief financial officer, financial controller and company secretary. Woodhouse's career has taken him to many jurisdictions, including the United States, Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Europe and India

*Disclaimer: This profile is sponsored by Lithium Australia ( LIT:AU ). This profile provides information which was sourced by the Investing News Network (INN) and approved by Lithium Australia in order to help investors learn more about the company. Lithium Australia is a client of INN. The company's campaign fees pay for INN to create and update this profile.

INN does not provide investment advice and the information on this profile should not be considered a recommendation to buy or sell any security. INN does not endorse or recommend the business, products, services or securities of any company profiled.

The information contained here is for information purposes only and is not to be construed as an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of securities. Readers should conduct their own research for all information publicly available concerning the company. Prior to making any investment decision, it is recommended that readers consult directly with Lithium Australia and seek advice from a qualified investment advisor.

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