Lithium Australia’s subsidiary to use zinc, manganese from batteries for fertilizers

(Image courtesy of Envirostream Australia).

Lithium Australia’s (ASX: LIT) 90%-owned subsidiary Envirostream Australia announced that it is working on a project aimed at assessing the use of zinc and manganese derived from recycled alkaline batteries as micronutrients in blended fertilizers.

Using recycled batteries to enhance fertilizers has the potential to divert toxic materials from landfill, provide the fertilizer industry with more sustainable inputs and improve crop yields

According to Envirostream, the fertilizer/wheat-seeding trial is being held near Kojonup, located about 260 kilometres southeast of the city of Perth.

The zinc and manganese used in the fertilizers were recovered, in the form of mixed metal dust, from single-use, disposable alkaline batteries like the ones commonly found in toys and remote-control units. Once recovered, the dust was agglomerated with mono-ammonium phosphate. 

To conduct the trial, some seed furrows were left with no fertilizer; others received mono-ammonium phosphate fertilizer; others got mono-ammonium phosphate agglomerated with two different dosages of Envirostream’s MMD; while others were sprinkled with commercial fertilizer with added zinc and manganese.

“While fertilisers incorporating rapid-release micronutrients derived from alkaline batteries are available commercially in the northern hemisphere, the micronutrients Envirostream is producing are slow-release variants tailored specifically for broad-acre farming in Western Australia,” the company said in a media statement.

“It is hoped that the use of such nutrients in slow-release form – believed to be a first for the Antipodes – in the sandy soils, low in zinc and manganese, that characterize WA’s wheatbelt region will provide growers with significant benefits.”