Pioneer Resources (ASX:PIO) has produced high specification battery grade lithium carbonate grading up to 99.7% from a sample taken from its Pioneer Dome Project in the Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia.
The lithium carbonate was produced by joint venture partner Lepidico (ASX:LPD) using its L-Max® technology.
Last month Pioneer entered into a joint venture agreement with Lepidico for the PEG009 prospect within Pioneer Dome.
A sample was taken from PEG009 for the purposes of trialling Lepidico’s L-Max® technology.
L-Max® achieved over 93.9% lithium extraction from the flotation concentrate, with estimated lithium recovery to the final lithium carbonate product of 90%.
Test program results
Final results from the recent bench scale L-Max® test program include:
- Mineralised samples used in the test program contained approximately 57% lithium mica and graded 2.8% lithium oxide - from a 3 kilogram sub-sample, a flotation concentrate was produced grading 3.6% lithium oxide and lithium recovery to concentrate was over 99%;
- The sample was then subjected to leaching under standard L-Max® conditions, with extractions for lithium and caesium of circa 94% and 93% respectively achieved;
- The leach liquor from the test was subjected to the usual L-Max® downstream process flow-sheet in a series of batch tests - lithium losses in the post leach L-Max® process were estimated at less than 3%, with total recovery from concentrate to lithium carbonate of approximately 90%.
- Battery grade lithium carbonate grading 99.7% was produced from these tests; and
- Caesium and rubidium in residue also represent an excellent opportunity to extract further valuable by-products, as has been undertaken on previous samples tested by Lepidico.
Joint venture details
Lepidico is able to earn up to 75% of the outcropping pegmatite PEG009 prospect, which contains a lithium-bearing mineral called lepidolite.
The joint venture area is circa 2% of the total Pioneer Dome Project area of 338 square kilometres.
A summary of the key terms includes:
- Stage 1 farm-in: Within 12 months, Lepidico commits to delineate a JORC compliant Inferred Resource of at least 500,000 tonnes grading at least 1.2% lithium oxide based on lepidolite content;
- Stage 2 farm-in: Within 24 months, Lepidico commits to delineate a JORC compliant Indicated Resource of at least 500,000 tonnes grading at least 1.2% lithium oxide based on lepidolite content to earn a 75% equity interest in the PEG009 area; and
- If Lepidico fails to meet either the Stage 1 or Stage 2 requirements the agreement will terminate and Lepidico will not retain any interest in the PEG009 area.
On Lepidico earning a 75% interest by satisfying the Stage 2 requirements, Pioneer’s 25% interest will be free-carried by Lepidico through to completion of a feasibility study resulting in a decision to mine.
PEG009 is located 3 kilometres south of Pioneer’s recently discovered high grade Sinclair Caesium deposit within the Pioneer Dome Project.
It covers a strike length of 2.5 kilometres and is one cluster of 13 pegmatite clusters identified by Pioneer along a 20 kilometres trend along the eastern edge of the Pioneer Dome.
The PEG009 prospect is located 35 kilometres north of the town of Norseman adjacent to the Coolgardie-Esperance Highway and rail line.
Mapping at PEG009 has identified two lepidolite-mineralised pegmatites, and rock chips have returned values up to 3.94% lithium oxide at PEG009A and 3.84% lithium oxide at PEG009B.
The rock chips are also anomalous with caesium.