Lepidico unveils DFS for lithium chemical production using proprietary process

Lepidico ASX LPD Phase 1 Definitive Feasibility Study DFS Karibib
Lepidico’s definitive feasibility study estimates an initial 14-year mine life.

Lepidico (ASX: LPD) has unveiled the phase one definitive feasibility study for its vertically integrated lithium chemical production plans, with the study revealing a net after tax profit of US$555 million (A$837 million).

The profit is over a 14 year mine life, with pre-production capital costs estimated at US$139 million.

Lepidico’s phase one study evaluates using lithium-mica from its Karibib project in Namibia, which has reserves of 6.7 million tonnes at 0.46% lithium, 2.26% rubidium and 320 parts per million caesium.

The project is fully permitted for redevelopment of two open pit mines that will feed the ore into a mineral concentrator.

Lepidico then plans to ship the concentrated product to a chemical conversion plant it will develop in the Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi.

The plant will operate using Lepidico’s proprietary process technologies including L-Max to generate lithium hydroxide for the battery industry along with high-value by-products caesium formate, rubidium sulphate and bulk by-products of amorphous silica, sulphate of potash and gypsum residue for various other end uses.

Lepidico managing director Joe Walsh said the study represented a “major milestone” in advancing the project and “enshrines six years of extensive development work across multiple disciplines”.

“Lepidico’s phase one project represents a unique development opportunity for the production of four valuable alkali metal streams: lithium, caesium, rubidium and potassium.”

He noted this is made possible by Lepidico’s proprietary process technology L-Max with lepidolite as the primary feed.

“LOH-Max further differentiates phase one from other lithium projects by providing a single process step solution for the production of lithium hydroxide without the costly and potentially problematic production of sodium sulphate.”

He added the study had demonstrated the company’s phase one project was “technically robust” – both economically and from a sustainable perspective.

The company would now focus on banking the study to transition the company into development and eventually production.

Proposed operation

The initial phase one project is looking at a 14-year mine life to mine almost 34.9Mt of material to eventually generate 62,334t of lithium hydroxide.

Annually, this equates to 4,879t. Rubidium sulphate production is forecast at 19,878t for the mine life and averaging 1,542tpa.

Life of mine caesium formate generation is anticipated at 3,175t – equating to 246tpa.

Meanwhile, sulphate of potash production is estimated at 162,026t and averaging 11,500t annually.

Payback from the start of production is predicted to take 37 months, with the project to produce undiscounted free cash flow of US$521 million.

The company anticipates it will be in early production by mid-2023.

Lepidico noted that this phase one project was a “stepping stone” for growth, with plans to build larger scale projects of up to 20,000tpa at other strategic locations around the world.

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