THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Neometals (ASX: NMT) and its Joint Venture partner Mineral Resources (ASX: MIN) have claimed a step towards commercialisation of their patented lithium extraction ELi Process.
The companies are confident Eli Process could assist in the production of low cost battery grade lithium products from spodumene concentrate sourced from the Mt Marion project near Kalgoorlie.
Results of a Feasibility Study (FS), following a positive Prefeasibility Study in 2012, have confirmed the proposed production project is technically feasible and economically viable.
The ELi Process converts spodumene concentrate into a high purity lithium chloride solution, then uses electrolysis to produce high purity lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate, both high value products used in the lithium ion battery industry.
The technology is owned and being developed by Reed Advanced Materials Pty Ltd (RAM), which is 70 per cent owned by Neometals and 30 per cent owned by MIN.
The JV partners said the FS confirmed the potential for a viable, profitable new business using the ELi Process.
Neometals and MIN believe the ELi Process provides a competitive advantage with lower capital and unit operating costs when compared to current industry averages using conventional technology.
Based on the FS results, RAM has thrown its support behind the project progressing to a full, integrated pilot plant study to refine the process design and confirm the operating parameters to sufficient accuracy for the detailed design phase for a full scale plant.
RAM plans to undertake this pilot plant evaluation of the patented ELi Process in the FY2016‐17, subject to board approval.
A decision to progress to the construction phase of a full scale plant would be subject to successful execution of the full pilot scale test work and completion of detailed design of the full scale plant.
“We are pleased to have completed another step towards commercialising our patented ELi process and building a globally competitive, high purity ‘battery grade’ lithium compound facility,” Neometals managing director Chris Redd said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.
“The next step in the project’s development plan is to complete an integrated pilot plant test program using run‐of‐mine concentrates from Mt Marion before we commit to the detailed design and construction of a full scale plant.
“In parallel we will commence a formal partner selection process to commercialise this globally significant project.”