Piedmont Lithium has agreed to partner with SGS Canada in Lakefield, Ontario, to complete a pilot-scale spodumene concentrator program at its namesake project in North Carolina, USA.
The company collected over 50 t of mineralised pegmatite from 17 locations across its core properties in February. These near-surface samples were from locations representing early, middle and late-stage planned production at the development.
Piedmont said the pilot plant design will be based on the results of prior test work programs and will be used to support both the definitive feasibility study (DFS) of the company’s planned concentrate operations, as well as detailed design engineering of full-scale operations.
The pilot program will target production of a large sample of spodumene concentrate with at least 6% Li2O and less than 1% Fe2O3 for use in future pilot-scale lithium hydroxide test work programs that Piedmont intends to complete as part of the DFS of its planned integrated lithium chemical plant. The tests will involve “dense medium and flotation” pilot work, Piedmont said.
The ASX-listed company said this test work is a “critical step in ensuring future commissioning and ramp-up success” at the project.
“Additionally, the bulk sample collected targeted a range of potential concentrator feed conditions, including low-grade zones and diluted feed,” the company said. “Testing variable conditions rather than an optimised feed will help inform engineering design and eliminate potential operational bottlenecks during the project design phase.”
Keith Phillips, President and Chief Executive Officer of Piedmont, said: “The program will enable Piedmont to complete future lithium hydroxide test work programs and also supply large sample of spodumene to our key customer, Tesla, for their own testing purposes.”
The prefeasibility study on the Piedmont lithium project, released earlier this year, envisaged two options – a “Merchant” project and an “Integrated” project. Both included an annual average lithium hydroxide production (steady-state) of 22,720 t, but only the latter included 160,000 t/y of 6% Li2O spodumene concentrate production over the 25-year mine life.