A new “green” method developed in China for extracting battery-grade lithium from minerals has reportedly won the backing of authorities— paving the way for potential commercialisation.
The process developed jointly by Jiangxi Haohai Lithium Energy, Nanchang University and other institutions, can be used to separate all the elements in lithium-rich Lepidolite, according to the research team.
Liangming Ge (pictured, front row third from left), head of Haohai, said the process involved extracting the entire components of lithium mica to obtain battery-grade lithium carbonate through steps such as acidification of lithium mica and quaternization of silicon dioxide mixtures, using low temperature to precipitate alum, and the removal of impurities from calcium hydroxide.
The research team believes the process could combat environmental pollution that can result from lithium carbonate waste residue produced under existing methods of lithium extraction.
The team said the new process had already won a successful “appraisal” by state-level authorities. Meanwhile, Haohai plans to invest CNY1 billion ($156 million) in building a lithium carbonate production line with an annual capacity of 40,000 tonnes.
Haohai, which led the eight-years of studies into the extraction method, backed by the Jiangxi Province government, is also looking for co-investors in the project.
Jiangxi Province is said to be home to the world’s largest lithium mica mine with a lithium oxide reserve accounting for more than 30% of the total available nationally.