Integrated lithium technology company and explorer Lepidico (ASX: LPD) emerged from a trading halt this afternoon with news it had grown lithium resources at the Alvarroes lepidolite project in Portugal.
Global resources now sit at 5.87 million tonnes grading 0.87% lithium, which is up from the maiden resource estimate of 1.5Mt grading 1.1% lithium, which was unveiled in December 2017.
Lepidico noted the average grade had shrunk due to the inclusion of mineralised halo material.
However, the company pointed out when the halo material was excluded, the mineral resource grade had actually increased slightly, with the estimate for the pegmatite only totalling 3.9Mt at 1.16% lithium.
“This significant increase in the lithium mineral resource confirms Alvarroes as a considerable deposit of lithium-mica mineralisation,” Lepidico managing director Joe Walsh said.
“Mining studies have commenced with the object of delineating the project’s first ore reserve estimate later this quarter, which will contemplate the expansion of the mine and development of a small-scale mineral concentrator within the Alvarroes mining lease area,” he added.
Lepidico has secured an ore access agreement with Grupo Mota over the operating Alvarroes lepidolite mine, which currently supplies 1.8% lithium concentrate to the ceramics industry.
Proprietary lithium processing technology
In addition to firming up mineralisation at Alvarroes, Lepidico has developed the L-Max and LOH-Max proprietary technologies that can produce lithium carbonate or lithium hydroxide from non-conventional lithium sources including lepidolite and zinnwaldite.
Lepidico’s strategy is to use the non-traditional lithium minerals to produce a low-cost lithium battery material.
A feasibility study is underway for a 5,000 tonne per annum phase one plant in Sudbury Canada that can generate lithium hydroxide and other by-products using Lepidico’s proprietary technologies.
The feasibility study is due for completion before the end of the current quarter.
In addition to the Sudbury plant, Lepidico has almost finished construction of a Perth-based pilot plant in WA.
Wet commissioning of the pilot plant is scheduled to be completed before the end of this month, with the plant to be fully operational by May.
The pilot plant will provide material for potential offtake and finance partners to assess as well as data for the larger Sudbury plant.
Both plants will use non-traditional lithium mineral feedstock from Lepidico’s various offtake agreements and assets in Portugal, Australia and Canada.
By late afternoon trade, shares in Lepidico had dipped 5.88% to $0.032.