Delithiated Beta Spodumene (DBS)


Spodumene is typically found in hard rock pegmatites and consists of lithium-aluminium-inosilicate. As a source of lithium, it can be processed to extract lithium carbonate or lithium hydroxide, compounds used to make valuable products such as lithium-ion batteries, ceramics, greases and lubricants. Australia is a leader in the supply of critical lithium battery minerals needed to power the battery electric vehicle revolution. The development of some of the largest and highest-grade spodumene resources in the world is well underway. With six existing lithium mines, and more to follow, Australia will remain a key global supplier of lithium minerals well into the future. Several lithium companies including Covalent Lithium and Tianqi Lithium are also pursuing local beneficiation opportunities in Australia by building chemical plants to convert spodumene concentrate into lithium hydroxide. This chemical conversion, which uses both pyro-metallurgical and hydro-metallurgical processes, also manufactures a lithium aluminosilicate product termed Delithiated Beta Spodumene (DBS) – a new and emerging class of manufactured pozzolan. Industry predictions based on forecast lithium demand growth, coupled with additional domestic lithium chemical processing, will result in significant quantities of DBS being supplied in Australia over the coming years.

Standards, Specifications, Application and Uses

Standards Australia published AS382.4: 2022 Supplementary Cementitious Materials Part 4: Pozzolans – Manufactured, which is complimentary to the existing series AS 3582 Part 1: Fly ash, Part 2: Slag—Ground granulated blast-furnace and Part 3: Amorphous silica.  The Standard uses a similar structure.

Objectives for this Standard relate to encouraging resource efficiency, that is, to facilitate the beneficial use of manufactured pozzolans as mineral resources within a modern circular economy, using well-defined standards to provide market confidence in the resource use.  Whilst natural pozzolans sources are well understood, there is an emerging class of manufactured pozzolans arising from various non-metallurgical and mineral processing industries which warrants greater attention given ‘Circular Economy’ drivers to maximise mineral resource use.

The standard development process considered, where appropriate, existing international, national and relevant standards, coupled with publicly published research and extensive testing program of the Australasian Pozzolan Association.  In summary, the new Standard is expected to include new classes of materials, definitions, sources, specified requirements, testing methods and product conformity requirements in the normative section.

DBS under this standard will be used as a supplementary cementitious material in concrete, mortar and related applications.