Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) has reported “outstanding results” from the first stage of its SiLeach pilot plant trial at ANSTO Minerals’ facility in New South Wales.
Lepidolite was recovered from mine waste and concentrated for use as a feedstock in the pilot plant trial, which produced a pregnant liquor.
Under stage one, the plant operated continuously for five days and processed the lepidolite concentrate at 4kg per hour.
During the trial, up to 97.5% lithium was extracted from the leach circuit, with an average recovery of 94%.
According to the company, the leach results “exceeded target” and it will look at optimising the concentrate grind size and reagent when designing the proposed large-scale pilot plant.
“We are extremely pleased with the outcome of the first of the two-stage SiLeach pilot plant trial at ANSTO Minerals,” Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said.
With stage one lithium liquor meeting purity requirements, it will be processed further under stage two of the pilot trial to create lithium chemicals.
“We anticipate that stage two will result in the production of a lithium chemical from waste material sourced near Kalgoorlie,” Mr Griffin said.
“We will then apply VSPC’s proprietary process to that lithium chemical and, ultimately, produce a lithium-ion battery: a world first.”
“And we’ll do so whether the Australian federal government chooses to back the Lithium Valley concept or just ignore it,” Mr Griffin added.
Lithium Australia also plans to make a lithium hydroxide product from the lithium phosphate generated under the SiLeach process.
VSPC plant recommissioned
Today’s news follows Lithium Australia’s official recommissioning of its wholly-owned subsidiary VSPC’s plant in Wacol, Brisbane.
According to Lithium Australia, the plant is Australia’s only cathode powder pilot plant and battery-testing facility.
Mr Griffin has been calling on the Australian Government to back the Lithium Valley concept in WA, which analysts, industry bodies and scientists alike have called a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to give Australia a slice of the trillion dollar new era battery industry.