Lepidico halts lithium pilot plant operations during ramp up

Concentrate slurry in leach feed tank. Image: Lepidico

Lepidico has suspended its lithium pilot plant shortly after launching leach discharge filter operations yesterday.

The temporary suspension on Thursday evening was blamed on the “degradation of the filter cloths”.

Subsequent engagement with the filter original equipment manufacturer (OEM) revealed that nylon, rather than the specified polypropylene filter cloth, had been supplied.

Alternative filtration equipment on-site is being used in the interim to allow pilot plant commissioning on concentrate feed to advance to the point where the next filter downstream is required.

Kalium anticipates pilot plant operations to resume normally within 24 hours of receiving the replacement parts, which was expected to be provided “under a matter of urgency”.

Lepidico’s start of the ramp up for its first operating campaign has also reported first concentrate from its pilot plant leach circuit.

The company is targeting to achieve a continuous operation of 15 kilograms of concentrate feed every hour within two weeks’ time.

Lepidico started wet commissioning of the final pieces of mechanical equipment on June 19 when its generator power came online.

The final lithium carbonate process stage will come on stream, with sulphate of potash fertiliser production scheduled to commence in July.

Lepidico uses a metallurgical process that produces lithium carbonate from non-conventional sources, specifically lithium-rich mica minerals.

The company is conducting a feasibility study for a 5000 tonne a year phase one lithium chemical plant, targeting commercial production for 2021.

Lepidico has also advanced its planned acquisition of Namibia-based lithium development company Desert Lion Energy, with shareholders of the target company approving Lepidico’s acquisition of all Desert Lion’s outstanding shares.

Desert Lion shareholders will receive 5.4 Lepidico shares for each common share of Desert Lion held.

The transaction is expected to complete in mid-July, subject to court and regulatory approvals.

Lepidico’s exploration assets include a farm-in agreement with Venus Metals over the lithium mineral rights at the Youanmi lithium project in Western Australia.

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.