The x-ray ore sorting has successfully separated lithium micas, which could importantly act as feed for the company’s proposed large-scale pilot plant it intends to build.
Furthermore, the test work has revealed the potential for recovery of petalite, a lithium silicate which is a saleable item if concentrated.
Lithium Australia’s managing director Arian Griffin said: “Although our aim at Lepidolite Hill is exploitation of lithium mica, it's not surprising to find such abundant petalite in the mine dumps.
“Lepidolite Hill operated as a petalite mine in the 1970s, and perhaps the recovery of the target minerals was not as good as the operators would have liked! Ore-sorting will certainly enhance rapid separation of the lepidolite.
“That said, we'll also devote significant attention to the recovery of other lithium minerals that result in a grade of about 1.8% lithium oxide in the reject material.
“We'll probably drill at the south end of the existing pit, to see how far the lithium mineralisation extends beyond what was left in the pit wall.”
Test work results make Lepidolite Hill a top candidate
Earlier in March 2018, Lithium Australia noted that the Lepidolite Hill lithium deposit was emerging as a potentially valuable feed option for its proposed large-scale SiLeach® pilot plant.
The initial ore sorting test work done on historical mine waste at Lepidolite Hill supported this location as a possible feed option for the pilot plant.
Now Lithium Australia considers there is the potential to not only separate out petalite, as well as lepidolite, from surface stockpiles but also to undertake further exploration at the project.
Exploration would target possible in-situ lithium resources outside and below the current historical open-pit mine workings.