Low cost pilot plant to produce battery grade Lithium chemicals
Lithium Australia have confidently begun the final stage of pilot plant trials to prove up their unique “Sileach” Lithium processing technology.
The goal of the current trial is to prove to the market that the company’s Sileach process can cheaply and efficiently turn raw mine product into highly sought after battery-grade Lithium Carbonate at around half the cost of traditional processes.
Lithium Carbonate and Lithium Hydroxide are the two chemicals that are in high demand from Lithium-ion battery manufacturers around the world and they are traditionally very costly to produce.
Conventional methods of producing Lithium Carbonate and Lithium Hydroxide usually involve a very energy hungry “roasting” process however Sileach relies on an energy free chemical reaction to turn mine gate ore into battery grade chemicals.
The Perth-based company announced the second stage of the Sileach trial at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation’s Lucas Heights facility in NSW had begun this week.
The first stage showed the leach circuit had successfully extracted more than 95% of the Lithium out of 650kg of ore sourced from Lithium Australia’s Lepidolite Hill deposit in WA, with most impurities successfully separated out.
The pilot testing of the breakthrough technology is being closely watched around the world because of its potential to revolutionise the economics of the rapidly expanding Lithium mining industry.
Owners of low-grade deposits around the world could be the biggest winners given Sileach’s potential to produce high-value Lithium Carbonate at about half the cost of high-energy conventional processes that rely on roasting of the ore.
Sileach could also provide a major boost to Lithium rich Western Australia by developing a viable and affordable path to downstream processing of Lithium ore in the state.
In the second and final stage, ANSTO and Lithium Australia will step-up to “continuous” production of Lithium Carbonate from the Lithium liquor produced in the first pilot stage.
The second stage will also test the ability of the process to produce lucrative potassium salts as a by-product, which can be sold commercially to fertiliser manufacturers.
Lithium Australia’s Managing Director, Mr Adrian Griffin, said “Pilot testing the Company’s 100% owned Sileach™ process at the ANSTO Minerals has been very successful to date, extracting over 95% of the lithium. We anticipate very good results for the carbonate production step as the initial solutions are largely devoid of impurities.”