Expert insights on a sustainable lithium supply chain

UNSW-GWI recently sponsored the 2020 Symposium on Lithium Supply Chain for a Green and Mobile Energy Future, held via Zoom on Friday 20 November. The Symposium was the first of its kind, attracting 141 participants and with topics covering all aspects of the supply chain from the lithium outlook to building better processing, sustainable governance to the circular economy.

Among the many highlights of the Symposium were presentations by keynotes Professor Huanting Wang of Monash University and Kate Bennett, Sustainable Development Specialist.

Professor Wang discussed new, innovative methods that could potentially revolutionise our capability for lithium extraction, relying on the exceptional sieving capability of Metal Organic Frameworks to produce simple filters. According to Prof Wang, the ability to reduce the extraction time of lithium could be a major step towards efficient recycling of used lithium ion batteries.

Of the amount of waste generated nationally by lithium, Prof Wang said, “three thousand three hundreds tonnes of lithium-ion battery waste is generated annually in Australia, and the waste is projected to exceed 100,000 tonnes by 2036 – an increase of by 20 per cent a year.”

Kate Bennett presented on the topic of ‘The stakeholder quandary: reconciling local dynamics with global expectations’. She said that, “effective stakeholder management is critical. This requires a much more collaborative, engaging, dialogue-based approach to stakeholder engagement, which doesn't seek just to address issues when they arise, but to truly understand the values, beliefs, expectations and relationships of stakeholder groups—and also the clear communication of processes rather than outcomes.”

The Organising Committee is now developing a white paper on key issues discusses during the event which will be released in 2021.

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