THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) completed the first stage of a two-stage trial of the company’s SiLeach® pilot plant the ANSTO’s minerals piloting facility in New South Wales.
Lithium Australia explained the concentrate used as feed for the trial was prepared in Perth and consisted of lepidolite recovered from mine waste.
Stage 1 of the trial produced a lithium pregnant liquor from lepidolite feed that will be processed during Stage 2 to produce lithium chemicals.
Stage 1 ran from 6-16 August 2018, during which the plant operated in continuous mode for five days, processing lepidolite concentrate at approximately four kilograms per hour through leach, pre-neutralisation and impurity removal stages.
Preliminary data indicated lithium extraction in the leach circuit peaked at 97.5 per cent and averaged 94 per cent for the duration of the trial.
Lithium Australia said the trial had successfully demonstrated continuous operation of the company’s proprietary SiLeach process, including full recycle of intermediate process streams.
“We are extremely pleased with the outcome of the first stage of the two-stage SiLeach pilot plant trial at ANSTO Minerals,” Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.
“We anticipate that stage 2 will result in the production of a lithium chemical from waste material sourced near Kalgoorlie.
“We will then apply VSPC’s proprietary process to that lithium chemical and, ultimately, produce a lithium-ion battery: a world first.
“And we’ll do so whether the Australian federal government chooses to back the Lithium Valley concept or just ignore it.”
Lithium Australia indicated it is assessing the implications of the federal government’s policy change in capping its Research and Development rebate scheme, a move the company feels has potential to negatively affect the new energy metals processing industry proposed for Western Australia.
Lithium Australia is considering relocating its successful R&D activities elsewhere – perhaps Germany, which has a target date for the demise of internal combustion engines and is facilitating that by way of attractive R&D financial support.