12/07/2021 - 13:11

Battery-grade lithium tests deliver a boost for Galan Lithium

12/07/2021 - 13:11

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ASX-listed Galan Lithium has continued its strong sharemarket rise this year on the back of impressive new results from testing aimed at showing it can produce high-purity battery grade lithium carbonate from its flagship Hombre Muerto West lithium brine project located in Catamarca, Argentina.

Lithium brine from Hombre Muerto West in Argentina has been shown to be capable of producing battery-grade lithium carbonate. Credit: File

ASX-listed Galan Lithium has continued its strong sharemarket rise this year on the back of impressive new test results on sample material from its flagship Hombre Muerto West lithium brine project located in Catamarca, Argentina. The company says “proof of concept” laboratory tests aimed at demonstrating the potential for production of high-purity battery grade lithium carbonate have achieved 99.88% lithium carbonate equivalent product purity.

Battery-grade lithium carbon equivalent must be at least 99.5 per cent purity. Galan Managing Director Juan Pablo Vargas de la Vega said the testwork showed “we still have room for improvement”.

The company’s shares were up more than 8 per cent early today, taking year-to-date gains past 180 per cent. Galan Lithium has a current market value of $254 million.

Management said laboratory testwork conducted in Antofagasta under the supervision of specialised consultancy firm, Ad-Infinitum, followed on from recent evaporation trials. The tests used high-quality, plus-6 per cent lithium brine concentrate. Concentrate optimisation work produced a purer product that reduced reagent consumption and costs.

Galan said: “Importantly at the next stage, further reagent cost reductions were identified, as a cleaner concentrate requires less reagents and volume impurities to be removed for the precipitation of lithium carbonate. As a result, the battery grade was obtained with no requirement to do undertake an additional purification step using dissolution with carbon dioxide.”

According to the company, the testwork also delivered impressive results for the removal of contaminants such as sulphate, boron, calcium and magnesium, which are typically  difficult to eliminate .

Assaying of the lithium carbonate sample was completed at an external laboratory in Santiago, Chile.

Mr Vargas de la Vega said: “While this is early days, we are excited to demonstrate this first step as a proof of concept of high purity lithium carbonate while we still have room for improvement [on] more tha 99.88 per cent LCE. Importantly, from our studies, Galan’s high grade and low impurities brine has demonstrated that we can produce high purity lithium carbonate at a low cost.”

Galan said in the course of developing test procedures Ad-Infinitum had identified other opportunities to improve results that would be adopted in future testwork at both laboratory and pilot plant levels.

The company said the proof-of-concept milestone added to its potential process design flexibility at the Hombre Muerto West project. Its study team was working on different alternatives to optimise combined outcomes for brine pond and lithium carbonate plant design.

Located in South America’s prolific “Lithium Triangle,”  Galan’s wholly-owned Hombre Muerto West project boasts some 2.3 million tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent resources at an average grade of 946 milligrams per litre lithium. The company has a total inventory of about 3Mt LCE at 858mg/l lithium. The Hombre Muerto district is proven to host the highest-grade lithium with the  lowest impurity levels within Argentina and is home to Livent Corporation’s El Fenix operation and Galaxy Resources and POSCO’s Sal de Vida projects.

Galan sees process design as a crucial step before sourcing a major engineering contract for the project and is evaluating the most suitable design for its feasibility study.

As well as Hombre Muerto West, the company owns 80 per cent of the highly prospective Greenbushes South lithium project in Western Australia.

Increasing sought-after lithium is presently  sourced from hard-rock mines in Australia or from underground brine reservoirs in South America. Extraction of lithium through brine reservoirs is typically done via large salt flats, using evaporation. Although brine projects usually require longer lead times to production than hard rock operations they generally  have longer mine lives.

As well as its crucial, expanding use in lithium-ion batteries, lithium is also used in ceramics and glass, lubricating greases, polymer production and air treatment. Having the lowest density of all metals, lithium is light and soft and floats on water. The lithium ion is therefore lighter, more efficient, and more durable than other battery chemicals, making it the go-to-choice for energy storage.  

Galan says it “continues to add flexibility” on its road to production via added-value routes including lithium concentrate and now battery grade lithium carbonate.

 

Is your ASX-listed company doing something interesting? Contact: matt.birney@businessnews.com.au

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