Lepidico (ASX: LPD) has established a more efficient processing pathway for the Alvarroes lepidolite pegmatite mine in Portugal and is incorporating the updated process into its L-Max plant feasibility study.
The company claims the development option has resulted in lower capital and operating cost estimates.
Previous test work on Alvarroes ore generated a quality lithium mica concentrate, which Lepidico anticipates will be fed into its phase one L-Max plant.
Further flotation test work was carried out on Alvarroes mineralisation and created separate feldspar and quartz concentrates, which could offer up additional revenue streams.
Lepidico said the quartz and feldspar concentrates would also result in reduced mine waste and possibly negate the need for a tailings storage facility.
“As part of the current feasibly study, Lepidico has identified that staged conventional flotation allows these further mineral concentrates to be generated as by-products to the primary lithium mica concentrate,” Lepidico managing director Joe Walsh said.
“Advantages of this approach include a significantly reduced footprint at Alvarroes along with the option to employ modular concentrator technology, reduced capital and operating costs and maximisation of the mineral potential of the pegmatite,” Mr Walsh added.
In its pre-feasibility study, Lepidico estimated A$15 million would be needed to build a concentrator plant that produces the lithium mica concentrate. To develop a plant that can produce the feldspar and quartz concentrates as by-products, Lepidico expects the cost would be 20% higher.
A formal estimate for a plant that can generate the three concentrates will be calculated during the feasibility study, which is due for completion in the September 2018 quarter.
Grupo Mota operates Alvarroes and Lepidico is undertaking the feasibility study as part of an ore access agreement.
“The collaboration between Grupo Mota and Lepidico allows each company’s expertise to be leveraged to maximise the potential of the Alvarroes pegmatite deposit,” Mr Walsh noted.
Lepidico has already identified several sites close to the Alvarroes mine as potential locations for the concentrator, with permitting and development planning underway.
As part of its plan to become a fully integrated lithium producer, Lepidico developed its proprietary L-Max technology, which can produce lithium carbonate for the battery market from alternative lithium minerals such as lepidolite.
The phase one L-Max plant feasibility study is evaluating the viability of building a L-Max processing plant that can produce up to 3,000tpa of lithium carbonate from lithium concentrates sourced from Alvarroes and the company’s other projects.
Shares in Lepidico rose 5% in mid-morning trade to A$0.042.