Battery Metals and Critical Minerals

LabWest has significant experience in dealing with battery metals and critical minerals over many years, and in a wide variety of settings.

Techniques employed in exploration for these materials include:

Rare Earth Elements

LabWest has been closely involved with REE exploration over the past decade, in areas such as Brown’s Range, Mangaroon, Norseman, Esperance, Southern Cross, Leonora, Tasmania and Mt Isa.

UltraFine+TM is used for broad scale definition of regolith anomalies, where the clay fraction in the soil sample is collected, then analysed using microwave aqua regia digestion and ICP-Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS). Sensitive signals are detected for resistates and heavy rare earths.

Microwave-assisted Multiacid Digestion (MMA) is used where the total sample or rock is to be assayed for complete digestion of low level REEs, and a wide range of trace metals analysed by ICP-MS.

Alkaline Fusion is used where Total Rare-Earth Oxides (TREO) is high, and gives complete digestion of all resistates and a total rock or soil REE content.

BioGeoChemistry has also been used successfully to find anomalies for REEs under transported cover.

WATCH: LabWest Principal Chemist presentation on Rare Earth Element analysis at AIG:

Lithium Exploration

Lithium and its pathfinders (eg LCTs) respond well in the UltraFine+TM clay fraction technique, to identify soil anomalies over broad exploration areas. This has been used successfully in areas such as the Pilbara, Greenbushes, Hopetown, Lake Johnson, Southern Cross, and the Fraser Ranges.

Outcropping rocks and rock chips can be digested by Microwave-assisted Multi Acid Digestion (MMA) to give total analysis of Li, Cs, and Ta plus a wide range of trace elements. BioGeoChemistry has also been used successfully to find anomalies for Lithium and pathfinders.    


LabWest has a dedicated, high capacity Carbon and Sulphur analysis section, which carries out Total Carbon, Graphitic Carbon and Total Sulphur analysis by oxidative combustion.

Copper, Nickel & Cobalt

Base metals adhere well to clay particles, and give sensitive signals using the UltraFine+TM technique.

This has been used with excellent results throughout Australia.

Microwave-assisted Multi Acid Digestion (MMA) is usually used to test outcropping rocks and chips.

BioGeoChemistry has also been used successfully to find anomalies for base metals.

Uranium & Isotopes

Uranium is highly mobile and responds well in the UltraFine+TM clay fraction technique. UltraFine+TM has been used successfully in the Northern Territory.

Biogeochemistry has also been used successfully in South Australia and Northern Territory for Uranium exploration.

LabWest has the latest state of the art multi-quadrupole ICP, which is capable of detecting isotopes with the lowest DLs commercially available.

Product Impurity Testing for Battery Metals

LabWest has analysis sections dedicated to low detection level impurity testing of critical mineral and battery metal products, including: HPA, HPS, HPV, V2O5, LiOH, LiCO3, CoS2, MnSO4, and Graphite.

Analysis can include; Trace multi-element analysis by ICP-MS and OES, magnetic impurities, acid and water insolubles, F, Cl- and CO2 by titration.

Impurity levels can be tested to 99.999 % (five nines).