The pilot plant is under construction with delivery to site expected soon after calendar year-end.
The pilot plant, which has been designed by Silicon Valley-backed Lilac Solutions and international engineering company Hatch, will demonstrate Lilac Solutions’ ground-breaking direct extraction ion exchange process on brines produced at Kachi.
The first module of the plant has already been completed.
Results from lab testing have been incorporated into the pre-feasibility study (PFS) at Kachi, which is currently 75% complete, on time and on budget, and scheduled for release by year-end.
Lake expects to produce a high quality, low impurity product that is likely to attract premium pricing in the current market for lithium, amid rising demand for electric vehicles (EVs) and increasing interest in the project from potential off-takers and project partners.
Lab testing has shown that lithium concentrations of 30-60,000 mg/L (milligrams per litre) lithium can be produced from brines of ~300 mg/L lithium in a few hours after dewatering, more than 10 times the concentration of conventional processes, together with lower impurities.
Diagram showing the Lilac direct extraction process using ion exchange over 2-3 hours to produce an improved lithium concentrate prior to conventional processing of lithium carbonate or lithium hydroxide.
This direct extraction process will be a major advance for the lithium brine industry, producing high quality low impurity lithium products, flexible and scalable to suit end user needs.
Lake managing director Steve Promnitz said: “We are pleased to see the excellent results at lab scale will be demonstrated with the pilot plant and look forward to seeing it on site as part of our PFS for Kachi.
“The production of samples from the plant will give potential partners, including battery makers and cathode makers, increased confidence in the technology to produce consistent high quality, low impurity products that suit the downstream market amid an increased focus on the cost-competitiveness of lithium brines.
“This will be potentially a disruptive force for the lithium supply chain by delivering a quick, efficient, flexible, scalable and sustainable extraction method compared to traditional evaporation methods that are coming under increased scrutiny due to their impact on local ecosystems.”
Pilot Plant under construction at Lilac’s facility in Oakland, California. Lilac materials engineer Garrett Lau and process engineer Amos Indranada showing the controls.
Lilac CEO Dave Snydacker said: “The performance of the Lilac method on the Kachi brines has been exceptional – a fast, low impurity product has been produced with the ion exchange beads performing even better than expected.
“We look forward to continuing to demonstrate the high potential for low cost premium lithium product in partnership with Lake Resources, which has shown its readiness to adopt industry-leading solutions for the benefit of all stakeholders.”