Piedmont Lithium (ASX: PLL) is to partner with analytical testing firm SGS Canada to complete a pilot-scale spodumene concentrator test work program.
The work will process a 50-tonne sample of ore collected from Piedmont’s deposit in North Carolina, the Core mine project.
The deposit is along trend to the Hallman Beam and Kings Mountain mines, which historically provided most of the western world’s lithium between the 1950s and the 1980s.
Piedmont has a deal to supply spodumene to electric car maker Tesla from its planned mining and processing project in North Carolina.
SGA Canada will complete dense, medium and flotation pilot work over the coming weeks.
Concentrate for testing by Tesla
Piedmont Lithium president and chief executive officer Keith D Phillips said the Canadian company’s work will help underpin the definitive feasibility study (DFS) as well as future design engineering.
“The program will enable Piedmont to complete future lithium hydroxide work programs and also supply large samples of spodumene concentrate to our key customer, Tesla, for their own testing purposes,” he added.
The concentrate produced from this work will be used in the company’s own as well in third party lithium hydroxide pilot programs.
Two weeks ago, Piedmont reported it had completed a bench-scale lithium hydroxide test work program which demonstrates the company can process ore from its mine and convert that to battery-quality lithium hydroxide.
The lithium hydroxide was produced from spodumene concentrate extracted from core samples taken from the company’s hard-rock lithium project.
In February, Piedmont collected more than 50t of mineralised pegmatite from 17 locations across its Core property that will now be used in the trials by SGS Canada.
These samples were from near-surface pegmatites located in areas under the company’s planned production schedule — early, middle, and late year.
Targeting high-grade lithium content
Piedmont said its pilot plant design will be based on the results of earlier test work programs and will be used to support both a DFS of the company’s planned concentrate operations as well as in the detailed design engineering of the eventual full-scale operation.
The pilot program will target concentrate with at least 6% lithium oxide concentrate and less than 1% iron oxide.
Piedmont Lithium holds a 100% interest in the Piedmont lithium project, a pre-production business targeting the manufacturing of 22,700t per annum of battery-quality lithium hydroxide in North Carolina to support electric vehicle and battery supply chains in the United States and globally.
Piedmont said its “premier” location includes favourable geology, proven metallurgy and easy access to infrastructure, power, research and development centres for lithium and battery storage along with major high-tech population centres.