Zeotech’s goal of commercialising its lithium cleantech has received a major boost after it was named an industry partner of the federal government Trailblazer University Program.

The company will participate in the successful Resources Technology and Critical Minerals Processing Trailblazer Program led by Curtin University – the first of Australia’s Trailblazer universities announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier this week, under the $243 million program that seeks to boost priority R&D and drive commercialisation outcomes with industry partners.

The program will accelerate commercialisation of the company’s proprietary cleantech innovation for lithium process by-product in conjunction with project partners – The University of Queensland (UQ) and Covalent Lithium – a joint venture between Wesfarmers (ASX:WES) and SQM (NYSE:SQM)

Zeotech’s (ASX:ZEO) project has an indicative budget of $10.4m, though contributions from UQ as part of the University Trailblazer program, together with cash, infrastructure, and in-kind contributions from project partners means the company expects its remaining net cash contribution to range between 25% to 30% of the total budget.

It will include the construction of a large-scale demonstration plant to commercialise the lithium cleantech.

“Zeotech is delighted to be a member of the successful Resources Technology and Critical Minerals Processing Trailblazer Program led by Curtin University and values its collaboration with Covalent Lithium and The University of Queensland,” managing director Peter Zardo said.

“The Trailblazer recognises the importance of managing all aspects of critical mineral processing and validates the commercial potential of Zeotech’s proprietary technology and the funding secured sets a clear path to commercialisation.”

Covalent general manager technical and deputy project director Mauricio Olivares added, “the company will operate its Mount Holland lithium project to produce battery-grade lithium hydroxide in an environmentally responsible manner that maximizes resource recovery wherever possible.”

“We look forward to the Trailblazer journey and working with our consortium partners in supporting the development of an innovative Australian technology for lithium process by-product that will greatly assist Covalent in meeting this goal,” he added.


Zeolite manufacturing from lithium refinery tailings

Lithium processing results in the generation of fine leached spodumene ending up in the process tailings stream. Approximately seven tonnes of concentrate feed is required to produce one tonne of lithium hydroxide, resulting in a significant surplus of by-product.

Australia is expected to become one of the world’s largest producers of lithium hydroxide, a key input for lithium-ion batteries, from demand driven by vehicle electrification and as global economies target carbon neutrality. This will undoubtably generate material amounts of lithium process by-product, which will require sustainable and value-add management solutions.

Zeotech’s novel and proprietary flowsheet has successfully produced manufactured zeolites using the leached spodumene residue, which could potentially reduce the amount of tailings produced by lithium processing.

The zeolites can in turn be used for a wide range of commercial applications, which include; water purification, animal feed additives, gas stream purification and separation, multiple drying processes and during the cracking processes in the pharmaceutical and petroleum industries.

More recently, a three-month Extended Carbon Market Scoping Study undertaken by Griffith University found seven additional ways in which zeolites manufactured using the company’s low-cost proprietary mineral processing technology could mitigate the 3 major greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.


This article was developed in collaboration with Zeotech, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.