Lithium Australia designates Sileach pilot plant designer

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) declared it had advanced the commercialisation of the company’s revolutionary Sileach process for the recovery of lithium from silicates.

The advancement announced by Lithium Australia came in the form of its commitment to the Sileach process engineering design with an engineering study being awarded to CPC Project Design Pty Ltd.

The brief for CPC is to design a plant capable of an output of 2,500 tonnes per annum of lithium carbonate with a scheduled completion of April 2017 along with capital cost estimates, operating cost estimates and comparative logistic costs of a number of Western Australian sites.

Lithium Australia has maintained Port Hedland to be a location of high priority to provide it with the greatest flexibility in servicing its requirements under the terms of the company’s commercialisation agreement with Pilbara Minerals (ASX: PLS).

Lithium Australia is hopeful a successful large-scale pilot testing may lead to a 50/50 joint venture with Pilbara Minerals to process spodumene from Pilbara Minerals’ Pilgangoora deposit, which is located only 120 kilometres south of Port Hedland.

Lithium Australia and ANSTO have scheduled further pilot testing later this month and in January 2017 to process spodumene concentrates from Pilbara Minerals’ Pilgangoora deposit.

Work has commenced at Murdoch University, funded by a research grant from the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia that will focus on impurity deportment, and maximising the value of by-product credits.

“The progression from the first laboratory tests, to awarding the engineering contract has all been encapsulated in 2016, the most progressive year in Lithium Australia’s history,” Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“The commitment of our partners at ANSTO Minerals and Murdoch University, and support by grants from the federal and state governments has been paramount in this development.

“The decision to award the engineering contract to CPC Engineering retains much of the financial and intellectual property benefit in Western Australia, and maintains our scheduled target for commercialisation of the Sileach process.”