Scientists from a group of Chinese institutions have developed a method for efficient extraction of lithium that is ready for commercial-scale implementation.
The new lithium extraction technology has passed the national scientific and technological achievements appraisal, reported Xinhua.
Institutions that participated in the development of the technology include Jiangxi Haohai Lithium Energy, Nanchang University, and other bodies.
The new method is set to replace the existing methods used in the country for lithium extraction and has the ability to separate all the elements in lithium micas.
According to the news agency, the current extraction methods allegedly produce huge amounts of waste and are less profitable.
The development comes at a time when there is growing demand for the metal from companies in the automotive, energy and electronics industries.
Lithium batteries are used in smartphones, laptops, and electric cars. Lithium carbonate serves as the raw material for lithium cells.
China imports 80% of its lithium carbonate as a result of inefficiencies in the current mining technology.
During production of 1t of lithium carbonate using traditional methods, around 30t-40t of waste is generated.
Haohai chairperson Peng Guiyong was cited by the news agency as saying that the company will build production line with an annual lithium carbonate capacity of 40,000t with an investment of CNY1bn ($156m).
The Jiangxi province contributes one-third of China’s total lithium oxide reserves.