Pilbara Minerals and Calix have executed a joint venture (JV) agreement for the development of a demonstration plant using Calix’s patented calcination technology at the Pilgangoora project in Western Australia.
The aim of the joint venture is to produce lithium salts via an innovative midstream “value added” refining process leveraging this calcination technology. It will also explore the potential commercialisation of the process.
The objective of the “Mid-Stream Demonstration Plant Project” is to deliver a superior value-added lithium product enabling lower product cost, reduced carbon energy intensity, and reduction of waste product logistics.
The unincorporated JV will be a 55:45 agreement in favour of Pilbara Minerals, with each party funding their share of operating and capital costs and Calix licensing its patented technology and calcination knowhow into the JV. Pilbara Minerals will manage the demo plant at Pilgangoora, overseeing both the construction and operational phases.
A successful demonstration of the calcination technology via this plant may then lead to its commercialisation with the JV licensing the technology to the global spodumene processing industry, Pilbara Minerals says.
It follows a previous agreement signed back in June.
The project aims to demonstrate a superior value-added lithium product to the existing industry supply chain, while also potentially delivering a significant reduction in carbon intensity, with potential industry benefits including:
- Product cost – the flash calcination technology developed by Calix has the potential to treat very fine spodumene concentrate at lower lithia grades and materially improve overall lithia recovery, thereby enabling a lower cost per lithia unit;
- Carbon intensity reduction – substantial carbon emission reduction through the electrification of the Mid-Stream process, including spodumene calcining, enabling the potential to use up to 100% renewable sourced power; and
- Waste reduction/handing – rationalisation of the carbon footprint via reduced waste movement across transport and logistics supply chains from a more lithium-dense, and near zero-waste final product.
Pilbara Minerals’ Managing Director and CEO, Dale Henderson, said: “The Mid-Stream project has the potential to be a game changer for our industry. If successful, we will be able to deliver a superior chemical intermediary product to market compared to spodumene concentrate.
“This intermediate product offers a higher concentration in lithium and less impurities whilst being produced through a new process that reduces CO2 emissions compared to the traditional process route for hard-rock spodumene chemical conversion.”