Lithium Australia confirms lithium hydroxide production process

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) claims to have potential for a second commercial lithium product – lithium hydroxide – to be produced from the company’s Lepidolite Hill mica deposit, located southwest of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia.

The company received final control assays from recent production of lithium hydroxide, which it said substantiated the potential to produce this product from lithium micas by conversion of lithium carbonate.

The tests were conducted on lithium carbonate samples Lithium Australia produced during a mini-plant production run carried out in July 2015 using lepidolite from Lepidolite Hill.

Lithium hydroxide was produced by dissolution of the lithium carbonate and addition of lime with filtration of the solution removing most of the solid impurities (primarily calcium and magnesium). 

According to the company, the tests showed that while some lithium is precipitated with these solids, they can be recycled to the primary mica leach, prior to precipitation of the lithium carbonate feed, which lessens any potential lithium losses from precipitated solids.

The test cycle also generated results showing 80 per cent of the lithium can be recovered by evaporation, with any lithium remaining in solution recycled to the lithium hydroxide precipitation, minimising solution losses.

The production of high-purity lithium carbonate is the second breakthrough for Lithium Australia on testwork on Lepidolite Hill samples.

Last year, the company produced a 99.58 per cent purity lithium carbonate from test work on Lepidolite Hill’s micas.

“The latest assay results come amid a push by Lithium Australia to trial hydrometallurgical techniques for the recovery of lithium and other metals on a wide range of silicates,” Lithium Australia said in its ASX announcement.

“In the case of lithium, the ability to digest the target mineral, and produce a final hydroxide product, remains a common thread, with hydroxide production potentially being one of the most significant value adding steps in the process.

“The ability to achieve these outcomes potentially adds enormous value to Lithium Australia’s Western Australian and international projects in Europe and Mexico.”