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Metso has certified its proprietary, sulphate-free alkaline pressure leach process as a ‘planet positive’ technology.

The original equipment manufacturer (OEM) defines ‘planet positive’ as products and services that are distinctive from a sustainability perspective, address customers’ sustainability needs, and build on its competitive advantages.

Metso’s ‘planet positive’ portfolio is considered to be more energy- or water-efficient than the industry benchmark, and is made up of over 100 products including the FIT crushing station. Metso’s hydrometallurgical alkaline leach process is also joining the portfolio.

The process is considered an easier and safer way to refine spodumene concentrate to battery-grade end products like lithium hydroxide monohydrate and lithium carbonate.

The high-purity lithium salts and hydrates produced can be used for the cathodes of lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles (EVs).

Metso’s hydrometallurgical alkaline leach process involves lithium being extracted with high yield, with the inert and neutral mineral residue minimised and being ready to be reused or disposed of. As a result, pollution to air, water, and soil is minimised, with no additional impurity removal or precipitation stages needed.

Based on the life cycle impact assessment, the process can provide up to 40–60 per cent in water consumption reduction.

“The urgent need to implement solutions and technologies limiting global warming is driving the development of lithium-ion batteries that are used, for example, in EVs and renewable energy storage ecosystems,” Metso lithium technology manager Marika Tiihonen said.

“This, and the regionalisation of critical minerals sourcing has resulted in a surge in lithium projects. Currently, Metso is supporting several battery minerals projects that are in study, piloting, engineering or delivery phases.

“As a strong and reliable partner for the development of lithium hydroxide and other battery minerals projects, Metso can deliver the whole production process – from mine to battery materials, and recycling of black mass – complemented with world-class service support.”