Shares increased 13% to 2.6 cents on news of advances in the work carried out by Lepidico in collaboration with consultants Strategic Metallurgy and Knight Piésold.
Caesium-rich brine produced
Lepidico has concentrated caesium and rubidium into two separate products, including a caesium-rich brine, which has applications in offshore oil and gas drilling.
The brine grading 32% caesium, 8% rubidium and less than 1% potassium has been produced from a lepidolite concentrate generated from the Alvarrões mine in Portugal.
A mixed rubidium-potassium salt was also produced that graded 23% rubidium, 29% potassium and less than 1% caesium, which will be evaluated for its potential industrial application.
Use in oil & gas sector
Oil companies and oil service companies use caesium brine – a high specific gravity, stable fluid at normal operating temperatures.
It increases well productivity, reduces drilling and completion costs, and provides a safe, non-corrosive and environmentally acceptable solution in well development and completion that eliminates the risks involved in handling heavy bromide brines.
Lepidico is pursuing commercial alternatives in relation to a caesium brine by-product sourced from lepidolite.
Further test work is planned with the objective of producing a marketable quality caesium brine, while also refining the associated process circuit.
Amorphous silica generated
Test work has also demonstrated that S-MaxTM generated amorphous silica materially increases the compressive strength of concrete when added as a partial cement replacement.
Tests conducted by Strategic Metallurgy resulted in a significant increase in concrete compressive strength of up to 30% when the L-Max® residue replaced 10% of the Ordinary Portland Cement and after curing for about 20 days.
Feasibility study for phase I plant
Further product development work is planned over the rest of 2018 with the objective of integrating outcomes into the closing stages of the phase I L-Max® Plant feasibility study.
Production of amorphous silica from the planned plant will simplify the process flowsheet versus the pre-feasibility study, which assumed the production of sodium silicate.
The associated operating cost and capital cost savings are expected to be offset by lower
revenue and are planned to be incorporated into the feasibility study.
Market study underway
A market study is underway for the sale of amorphous silica from the plant and the company is pursuing commercial alternatives in this regard.
Trials will also start next month for the use of L-Max® residue as a land reclamation product, following receipt of positive material characterisation tests.
The three-month research collaboration will involve the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Waterloo in Ontario and Knight Piésold Ltd.