Lepidico has switched its attention from producing lithium carbonate to high purity lithium hydroxide due to customer preferences for the battery compound.
The L-Max technology, developed to produce lithium carbonate, will now provide feed to the new lithium hydroxide producing process LOH-Max.
The technology is being integrated into Lepidico’s pilot plant development and phase one plant project feasibility study.
Lepidico commenced building an L-Max pilot plant to produce 2000 to 4000 tonnes per year battery grade lithium carbonate during phase one in October last year.
The Perth-based company confirmed material reductions should be achieved using LOH-Max in both capital cost – estimated at over $US10 million ($14 million) for 5000 tonnes per year of lithium hydroxide – and operating cost.
The LOH-Max technology is being developed in collaboration with Strategic Metallurgy, with which Lepidico has entered into a worldwide, binding exclusivity arrangement in exchange for Lepidico funding its development.
Lepidico managing director Joe Walsh said LOH-Max was an exciting development opportunity that allowed for the production of a premium priced lithium chemical at lower operating cost than the production of lithium carbonate.
“Furthermore, dispensing with the conventional sodium sulphate circuit both reduces capital cost and substantially reduces economic and environmental risks associated with the possible disposal of this material,” Walsh said.
“Lepidico is fast tracking the integration of LOH-Max into its development plans.”
A LOH-Max circuit is being adapted to the final process stages of Lepidico’s pilot plant development, which remains on schedule for commissioning in April 2019 and operation in May.
Lepidico also sees opportunities to license the LOH-Max process technology to a number of lithium chemical producers.