Lithium Australia has made significant steps towards on the planning of a proposed large-scale pilot plant (LSPP) utilising the company’s SiLeach process for lithium recovery from mine waste, stating that front-end engineering and design (FEED) activities are progressing as planned.
The company is preparing to recover lithium mica as a feed source for the LSPP from its Lepidolite Hill project in Western Australia, and has purchased and recommissioned both the Very Small Particle Company (VSPC) in Brisbane (for the production of cathode materials) and Moolyella lithium-tin-tantalum project in the Pilbara, Western Australia.
In addition, drilling work has been completed at the Sadisdorf tin-lithium project in Germany, with Lithium Australia awaiting assays.
The LSPP, when completed, will allow for the manufacture of battery cathode powders via the above-mentioned VSPC, lithium-ion battery recycling and low-cost, low-energy lithium recovery from silicates via the SiLeach process, which requires no roasting.
The SiLeach process allows for the production of battery-grade lithium from non-brine mineral resources at a cost similar to that of brine producers, but without the environmental risks of roasting and evaporation ponds.
Metallurgical testing is “well-advanced”, according to Lithium Australia, with material from two feed sources for the LSPP now being assessed.
Results of the latest flotation test work also show recovery rates of 86-94 per cent, with 60-73 per cent of that at a 3-3.6 per cent lithium oxide grade.
Managing director Adrian Griffin was pleased with the results so far, particularly regarding increased lithium recovery and by-product recovery.
“We’re pleased with the increase in confidence around by-product recovery, which is an important aspect of the SiLeach revenue stream,” he said. “We believe it will allow us to produce lithium chemicals from minerals but at the same low unit cost as that of the brine producers.”