Lithium Australia NL (ASX:LIT) has achieved exceptional lithium extraction results from its six-day pilot plant program testing its 100% owned Sileach™ lithium extraction process.
Testing has been conducted at the ANSTO Minerals facility in New South Wales and 650 kilograms of ore was processed.
The campaign produced a purified lithium-containing liquor, devoid of impurities.
This purified liquor will be processed through to high-purity lithium carbonate in a second pilot campaign in the near future.
Adrian Griffin, managing director, commented: “Plant performance could not have been better.
“The results show that exceptional lithium extractions can be achieved without the need for fine grinding, or the production of clean concentrates.”
Pilot plant details
The pilot plant was fed continuously from 12-17 September 2016, treating ore from the 40% owned Lepidolite Hill project in Western Australia.
The pilot plant consisted of leaching and impurity removal circuits.
Extraction of lithium using the Sileach™ process exceeded 95% in the leach circuit, validating both the overall extraction and accelerated rate of extraction of lithium achieved in the laboratory test work program.
The performance in the impurity removal circuits was comparable with the laboratory test work program, producing a liquor suitable for further processing.
The operation of the pilot plant was robust and provided valuable materials handling and additional engineering design data for Lithium Australia’s Sileach™ process.
Lower-grade spodumene concentrates of 4.5% lithium oxide from Pilbara Minerals Ltd’s (ASX:PLS) Pilgangoora project, will be processed in one of the subsequent test runs.
Lithium Australia is intentionally concentrating on the lower-grade, hard rock products, from which no other processes can recover lithium commercially.
The supply of spodumene concentrate by Pilbara Minerals is part of a prior agreement.
Subject to the success of pilot testing of concentrates, the parties agreed to establish the Sileach™ Joint Venture (SJV) with the aim of developing a commercial Sileach™ processing plant.
Advancing to processing spodumene from Pilgangoora is a key milestone for commercialising the Sileach™ lithium extraction process.
The deal with Pilbara Minerals creates the opportunity to establish a commercial lithium chemical processing plant in Port Hedland.
Testing at the ANSTO Minerals facility using feed from Lepidolite Hill to date has proved successful
The material processed was not subjected to pre-concentration but still achieved outstanding performance with minimal feed preparation.
These are key parameters for processing at low cost.
Results continue to indicate that Sileach™ provides significant processing advantages and has the potential to be a valuable processing technology.
Lithium Australia portfolio
Lithium Australia now has projects in the following jurisdictions:
- Western Australia: The Gascoyne; Pilgangoora; Ravensthorpe; Seabrook; Lepidolite Hill;
Greenbushes; Lake Johnston; and Widgiemooltha projects;
- Northern Territory: Bynoe;
- Queensland: Cape York; and
- Mexico: A 25% interest in the Electra lithium project.
Within these projects the company has various corporate alliances and joint ventures with Pilbara Minerals Ltd (ASX:PLS), Focus Minerals Ltd (ASX:FML), Alix Resources Corp (CVE:AIX), Cazaly Resources Ltd (ASX:CAZ), Tungsten Mining NL (ASX:TGN) and Venus Metals Corporation Limited (ASX:VMC).
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