Altura Mining (ASX: AJM) has exceeded battery grade lithium carbonate purity specifications after converting a spodumene sample from its Pilgangoora deposit, part of the company’s advanced lithium project near Pilgangoora in Western Australia’s Pilbara.
The benchmark for battery grade lithium carbonate purity is set at 99.5%, and Altura’s lithium carbonate from a 25kg spodumene sample achieved 99.97% purity during conversion process testing.
According to Altura, its lithium carbonate purity is comparable to commercial electric vehicle grade lithium carbonate, without actually undergoing flowsheet optimisation. This leaves the door open for optimisation opportunities further down the track.
Altura claims this evidences the “high quality grade” of its Pilgangoora spodumene and its lack of contaminants.
ANSTO Minerals carried out the independent testing using a conventional spodumene processing flowsheet to extract the lithium carbonate.
The process will be along the lines of what Altura’s offtake customers will use including Lionenergy Group once its lithium carbonate/hydroxide conversion plant in China has been commissioned.
Altura’s chief operating officer Chris Evans and processing manager Walter Madel recently returned from viewing Lionenergy’s plant construction, which is due to be completed by July ahead of Altura’s first spodumene concentrate shipment.
The project is about 120km from Port Hedland and covers about 394 hectares with two mining leases.
Altura plans to extract the ore via an initial 20-year open pit operation with construction nearing completion for the initial processing plant, tailings storage facilities and commissioning anticipated to begin by the end of March, with first product sales due mid-year.
“The board and management of Altura outlined an aggressive timetable when we broke ground in March last year on the Altura lithium project to place the company in a position to become the first major producer in 2018,” Altura managing director James Brown said.
About 230,000 tonnes of 6% grade lithium oxide per annum is anticipated under stage one production. A stage two expansion study has been approved to investigate increasing production to 440,000tpa.
Altura’s share price had slipped 3% by early afternoon trade to rest at A$0.47.