Tag Archives: Lithium

Albemarle maps out project plan for Kings Mountain hard-rock lithium mine

Albemarle Corporation has introduced its project plan for the Kings Mountain Mine, one of the few known hard-rock lithium deposits in the US.

The plan includes the proposed site footprint, primary physical features and details of the mining processes. Pending permitting approval and a final investment decision, the mine is anticipated to produce approximately 420,000 tons (381,018 t) of lithium-bearing spodumene concentrate annually.

After permit approvals are secured, Albemarle expects to use open-pit mining to deepen and expand the current mine pit to the southwest. The existing rock and soil will be drilled, blasted and loaded into trucks and hauled to various destinations at the mine site. Rock that does not contain lithium-bearing spodumene ore will be separated and stored at on-site rock storage facilities or repurposed for other uses. A portion of the rock that can be used for construction aggregate production is expected to be transported to the adjacent Martin Marietta quarry.

Ore will be hauled by truck to the run-of-mine (ROM) pad used to feed the on-site mineral processing facility at an average rate of circa-3.1 million tons per year (circa-8,900 tons per day). Albemarle intends to subsequently transport the spodumene concentrate by truck and/or rail to an off-site conversion plant at the rate of approximately 420,000 tons per year.

“The Kings Mountain Mine is a world-class resource that can provide an essential element to power our future,” Albemarle Energy Storage President, Eric Norris, said. “We are pleased to share our plan with the community as we continue to seek their engagement to redevelop this rich, domestic resource in a safe and responsible manner.”

The proposed project plan, shared this week at a community open house and available online, includes several environmentally and socially responsible mining features and practices:

  • Reduced land disturbance: The plan includes the use of the former Kings Mountain Mine to support mining operations and the use of a former mica mine for tailings storage—both designed to minimize the amount of land disturbance necessary.;
  • Sustainable materials management: Non-ore-bearing material from mining operations is planned to be transferred to the adjacent Martin Marietta Kings Mountain Quarry for processing and sale as construction aggregate. The arrangement is intended to contribute to a more sustainable management of resources and a portion of the sales are planned to be used to support Kings Mountain and the surrounding communities. In addition, Albemarle is currently testing secondary markets for processed ore tailings, which may have applications in ceramics or construction materials industries;
  • High standards and accountability: Planning for environmental protection measures and community engagement has been conducted to align with the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance’s (IRMA) Standard for Responsible Mining, a comprehensive set of requirements designed to reduce adverse environmental and social impacts and create benefits for local communities. Once operational, the mine would undergo a full third-party verification assessment conducted by an IRMA-approved certification body; and
  • Sustainable water management: The mine is designed to operate with collected precipitation to support its operations, relying on external sources only for drinking water, fire protection and sanitary purposes.

In September 2023, Albemarle Corporation signed agreements with Caterpillar Inc to collaborate on solutions to support the full circular battery value chain and sustainable mining operations. This aimed to support Albemarle’s efforts to establish Kings Mountain, North Carolina as the first-ever zero-emissions lithium mine site in North America, with the efforts including use of next-generation, battery-powered mining equipment.

In 2023, Albemarle was awarded a $90 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to help support the purchase of a fleet of mining equipment as part of the mine’s redevelopment. In 2022, Albemarle was also awarded a $150 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy as part of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to expand domestic manufacturing of batteries for electric vehicles.

Along with the project plan, Albemarle also commenced the public participation portion of a voluntary Environmental and Social Impact Assessment. As a key element of IRMA’s Standard for Responsible Mining, the assessment seeks to better understand and manage potential impacts from the proposed mine with consideration to the surrounding environment, local economy and the community’s health and safety. Albemarle plans to use the outcomes of the assessment to develop environmental and social management plans to minimise adverse impacts and enhance benefits.

Metso’s sulphate-free alkaline pressure leach process wins Planet Positive accolade

Metso is expanding its sustainable offering for the lithium market, having validated its proprietary, sulphate-free alkaline pressure leach process as a Planet Positive technology for the production of battery-grade lithium.

Metso’s hydrometallurgical alkaline leach process is a simple and safe way to refine spodumene concentrate to battery-grade end products like lithium hydroxide monohydrate and lithium carbonate, the company says. The innovative refining process produces high-purity lithium salts and hydrates, which are needed for the cathodes of lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles.

In the process, lithium is extracted with high yield. Inert and neutral mineral residue is minimised and ready to be reused or disposed of, thus minimising pollution to air, water and soil. No additional impurity removal or precipitation stages are needed. In recent studies, the alkaline leach process has also shown reduced environmental impact compared with other technologies, Metso says. Based on the Life Cycle Impact Assessment, the process can provide an up to 40-60% reduction in water consumption, as well a reduction in the acidification and eutrophication impact. The compact process also minimises plant footprint and embedded carbon, according to Metso.

Metso has been developing sustainable alkaline leaching technologies for hard-rock lithium sources for 20 years already. Today the offering includes proprietary technologies for refining lithium from spodumene mineral concentrates. Intensive R&D and piloting is also ongoing in the processing of other lithium-bearing pegmatite hard rocks such as petalite, zinnwaldite (with Zinnwald Lithium plc) and lepidolite. Metso says it also has proven processes also for the extraction of lithium from brines.

Alongside this, Metso is providing its Planet Positive sustainable soda pressure leaching technology for Keliber’s lithium hydroxide refinery, which will be built in Kokkola, Finland.

Marika Tiihonen, Technology Manager for Lithium at Metso, said: “The urgent need to implement solutions and technologies limiting global warming is driving the development of lithium-ion batteries that are used, for example, in electric vehicles and renewable energy storage ecosystems. This, and the regionalisation of critical minerals sourcing, has resulted in a surge in lithium projects. Currently, Metso is supporting several battery minerals projects that are in study, piloting, engineering or delivery phases.”

Tiihonen added: “As a strong and reliable partner for the development of lithium hydroxide and other battery minerals projects, Metso can deliver the whole production process – from mine to battery materials, and recycling of black mass – complemented with world-class service support.”

Anglo American and Finnish Minerals Group look to progress Finland’s battery strategy

Anglo American and Finnish Minerals Group have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to work together to explore opportunities to, they say, further support Finland’s battery strategy.

Finnish Minerals Group is a holding and development company that manages the Finnish Government’s mining industry shareholdings and supports the development of the Finnish battery value chain. Among other assets, it holds the Terrafame nickel heap leach mine.

Alison Atkinson, Projects & Development Director at Anglo American, said: “Finland is a highly attractive investment destination and has a strong heritage in both mining and innovation. We look forward to working with Finnish Minerals Group, whose mission is to responsibly maximise the value of Finnish minerals, to explore the wealth of opportunities that our agreement could offer.

“This agreement further strengthens our commitment to Finland as well as to our Sakatti project, a true polymetallic orebody very much aligned to Finland’s and the EU’s critical minerals priorities. Sakatti is designed as the next generation of FutureSmart Mining™, building on what we have learned in terms of minimal surface footprint and using technology and innovation to deliver ever better environmental and social outcomes, whilst producing essential raw materials needed to transition to a greener, low carbon energy future.”

Atkinson said last year during a sustainability performance update that Sakatti was set to be “a remotely operated, low carbon-underground mine with an electric mining fleet using technology and mining methods that will create zero waste and enable high degrees of water recycling, contributing to a sustainable supply of critical minerals”. The company also sees the potential to use sorting technologies for coarse particle rejection and material recovery opportunities at the project.

Jani Kiuru, Senior Vice President, Raw Materials at Finnish Minerals Group, said: “Exploring joint opportunities with Anglo American is a natural choice for us as they already know the Finnish operational environment. In addition, the company has a long history in mining and is a forerunner in sustainability. We believe this collaboration reinforces both parties by combining local and global knowhow in sustainability and technological development, thus maximising the value of Finnish minerals responsibly. We see there is a mutual understanding on the vast possibilities and importance of Finnish minerals for the green transition.”

As a Finnish state-owned company with a mandate to foster the Finnish mining and battery industry, Finnish Minerals Group is a natural potential partner for Anglo American in Finland, Anglo American says. The company’s main assets are: Terrafame, a subsidiary that produces nickel and cobalt sulphates; project Sokli, a phosphate and rare earths deposit; and a 20% interest in Keliber, a battery-grade lithium project aiming to start production in 2025. Additionally, Finnish Minerals Group is advancing several greenfield investments further downstream in the battery value chain.

EV Metals Group and Metso to build lithium chemicals plant in Saudi Arabia

EV Metals Group plc (EVM), a global battery chemicals and technology company, has signed a technical partnership frame agreement with Metso for a Lithium Chemicals Plant (LCP) to be built in Yanbu Industrial City in Saudi Arabia.

The agreement signed at the Future Minerals Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, outlines plans to engage Metso as EVM’s Technical Partner. Metso will provide technical, operational, maintenance and systems support to achieve best-in-class operational performance and asset management.

Metso will provide technical collaboration for EVM’s flagship LCP project, establishing the area as a globally significant midstream hub to produce high-purity chemicals required by electric vehicle and battery cell manufacturers. Metso’s advanced alkaline leach technology is already being deployed in different LCP projects around the world.

The technical partnership with Metso will support EVM to achieve a world-class environment with global standards of operating performance for its LCP while developing local employees’ skills and capabilities, the OEM says. Metso’s collaboration will be applied through all phases of the project, from project sanction to steady state operations.

EVM’s CEO, Luke Fitzgerald, said: “The technical partnership with Metso is a significant development to accelerate the progress of our LCP. EVM will take a collaborative approach to securing all requirements necessary to ensure successful start-up and operation of the LCP, fully aligning with the goals of Vision 2030. Metso is the ideal partner to provide processing technology and equipment for the entire lithium production chain, from mine to battery materials.”

Metso’s Services business area President, Sami Takaluoma, added: “We are extremely glad that EV Metals Group has shown their confidence and appreciation for the high quality of our technological expertise and end-to-end knowledge in sustainable solutions and services. We look forward to further developing our partnership. We are also committed to strengthening our service capabilities in the region to serve the growing customer needs.”

Metso says it provides sustainable technology and equipment for all ore types, including the critical minerals required for the energy transition, supported by its unique Planet Positive offering.

Pacific Energy to introduce LNG to Pilbara Minerals’ Pilgangoora power plant

Pacific Energy is pleased to announce it will be converting its diesel power plant at Pilbara Minerals Limited’s Pilgangoora Operation, in Western Australia, to a combined natural gas-diesel power station, helping to deliver a lower-emissions future for Pilbara Minerals.

The announcement comes off the back of the recent Pilbara Minerals’ ASX announcement detailing the lithium miner’s medium-term power strategy, a three-stage plan slated to significantly reduce its power related emissions intensity.

The 15-year power station upgrade agreement is an amendment to Pacific Energy’s existing build-own-operate contract to supply power to the Pilgangoora Operation. The agreement supplements a separate 6 MW solar power agreement in place between the two companies. The upgrades will play an important role in Stage 1 of Pilbara Minerals’ medium-term power strategy, which aims to further displace diesel fuel use with a lower-emissions fuel.

Under the agreement, Pacific Energy will convert its current on-site power plant to a combined natural gas-diesel power station, expand overall power generation to support its client’s P1000 expansion project, and integrate a battery energy storage system, initially to improve system reliability and efficiency, and subsequently to support future solar integration.

Pacific Energy’s upgrades will comprise 12 new 2.5 MW high-efficiency gas generators and a 13 MW/8 MWh BESS at the main power station. A portion of the existing diesel generators will remain on-site to provide additional power security across both the Pilgan and Ngungaju power plants.

Pacific Energy’s Chief Executive Officer, Jamie Cullen, said the project is further demonstration of the company delivering on its ambition to transition the world to a clean energy future.

“Decarbonising both our own and our clients’ operations is absolutely front of mind for Pacific Energy,” he said. “We know we play a critical role in helping our clients to reduce their emissions intensity by transitioning their power supplies to lower-emissions alternatives.

“We’re really pleased to be partnering with Pilbara Minerals on their journey towards net zero. Projects like this one lead to emissions intensity reductions, and they also enable the cleaner production of critical minerals like lithium, which are essential for our growing global renewable energy technology market. That’s something we’re really proud to support.”

Pacific Energy’s LNG conversion will help Pilbara Minerals substitute 90% of the diesel it currently uses for stationary power generation, replacing it with trucked LNG, a lower emissions-intensive fuel source, which is expected to reduce power related carbon emissions intensity by approximately 20%.

Pacific Energy expects project works to commence in early 2024, with the upgrades due for completion by mid-2025.

Firms partner on UK’s first direct lithium extraction plant for domestic supply of lithium

A milestone has been reached to deliver a domestic supply of lithium in the UK, with three companies from the north of England – Northern Lithium, Evove and Sheers – having signed an agreement aimed at delivering the UK’s first commercial-scale direct lithium extraction (DLE) plant that combines UK-developed technology, UK sourced lithium-bearing saline brines and UK process engineering expertise.

Successful industrial-scale production of battery-grade lithium from Northern Lithium’s Northern Pennine Orefield brines was achieved at Evove’s UK DLE Test Centre in August, and Northern Lithium is now targeting an initial commercial supply of lithium from its first planned production site at Ludwell Farm, Eastgate, County Durham in late 2026/early 2027. This follows the selection of Evove’s advanced DLE technology and process engineering expertise from Sheers. The three parties have now agreed to work exclusively towards the design and delivery of a commercial scale UK-manufactured DLE plant.

Success will allow Northern Lithium to roll out subsequent production sites with Evove DLE across a large area of the Northern Pennine Orefield, County Durham, where Northern Lithium has secured key long-term mineral and land rights, it says. Northern Lithium is targeting commercial production of up to 10,000 t/y of battery-grade lithium in the northeast within the next decade, to supply to UK gigafactories and the electric vehicle manufacturing industry.

The advantage of DLE with Evove lies in the ability to extract lithium at a high purity, according to the companies. In contrast to conventional approaches, the Evove system puts advanced membrane filtration technology at its core. This processes brines containing lithium very cleanly, reducing the energy, water and chemical footprint and improving the economics, the companies say.

Nick Pople, Managing Director of Northern Lithium, said: “We have come a long way in the last year having demonstrated the ability to locate and abstract saline brines present at relatively shallow depths within the granite of the Northern Pennine Orefield, County Durham, and confirmed the presence of potentially commercially-viable concentrations of lithium. We have also already successfully processed those brines at industrial scale with advanced DLE technology from Evove, producing battery-grade lithium carbonate. We are now, therefore, delighted to take the next development step and create this all-UK partnership with Evove and Sheers in a landmark project in County Durham to deliver a first commercial scale DLE plant within the next 3-4 years. Our ambition beyond that is to establish the North East as a key supply source for domestic lithium, not only providing a direct economic benefit to the local and regional economy, but also directly contributing to the UK government’s energy transition plans and targets to achieve net zero by 2050.”

Chris Wyres, CEO of Evove, said: “This partnership symbolises a really significant development in the UK, with highly advanced technology from the northwest of England paired with process engineering expertise from the northeast to produce lithium from saline brines in County Durham. We are delighted that Northern Lithium have made Evove their chosen DLE technology partner and that we can collaborate with our long-standing engineering partner Sheers to deliver what will be one of the world’s most advanced DLE lithium production plants.”

Sheers Managing Director, Roy Warren, added: “With Evove’s groundbreaking advanced membrane and DLE process, we have jointly developed a compact, versatile, adaptable modular layout that can be fully factory built and tested. The modular approach, which we specialise in, brings the advantage of high quality, reliability and repeatability, and drives down costs. The full automation of the plant brings down operation costs with minimal day-to-day supervision, accurate production quality control and remote monitoring for quick preventative maintenance response.”

Pilgangoora-PilbaraMinerals

Primero to work on next phase of Pilgangoora P680 lithium expansion project

NRW Holdings Limited’s wholly owned subsidiary, Primero Group Limited, has been awarded a contract for Structural, Mechanical, Piping, Electrical and Instrumentation Construction by Pilgangoora Operations Pty Ltd (POPL), a wholly owned subsidiary of Pilbara Minerals Limited, for the next phase of the Pilgangoora P680 Expansion project, 120km south of Port Hedland, Western Australia.

The award follows a formal Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) phase to determine construction methodology, cost and schedule.

Under the contract, Primero is responsible for the construction of the crushing and ore sorting facilities. Primero will also assist with providing commissioning, integration and shutdown support. The contract at award has an approximate value of A$64 million ($40.7 million), with the contract scheduled for completion in the September quarter of 2024 with the works commencing immediately.

Primero’s Managing Director, Michael Gollschewski, said: “It is pleasing for Primero to be awarded this contract following the combined efforts of Primero and POPL teams in the successful delivery of the first stage of the P680 Expansion. We look forward to building on what is already a strong partnership with the POPL team.”

NRW’s Managing Director, Jules Pemberton, added: “This award continues to build on the long association between Pilbara Minerals and Primero that began with the design and construction of the original Pilgan Plant and continues with the delivery of the P680 Expansion Project. We look forward to the successful completion of these works.”

The P680 Expansion project could see Pilbara Minerals step-up its production run-rate at the operation to a total of circa-680,000 t/y of spodumene concentrate across the combined Pilgangoora operation.

Liontown Resources banks LNG supply for Kathleen Valley hybrid power plant

Liontown Resources has awarded a contract for the supply of LNG to its Kathleen Valley lithium project in Western Australia to Mid-West LNG Pty Ltd, a group company of Clean Energy Fuels Australia (CEFA).

LNG-fuelled thermal power is a key component of the 95 MW hybrid power station at Kathleen Valley, which is expected to be among the largest off-grid wind-solar-battery storage renewable energy facilities in Australia.

The initial LNG supply will commence in January 2024 in time for planned early commissioning activities and the contract contemplates renewable energy penetration in line with Liontown’s target to be at least 60% renewably powered from start-up while providing surety of supply, the company says.

The LNG supply contract is a key deliverable for the 95 MW hybrid power station. The power station comprises wind turbines, solar panels, battery storage, diesel and gas-fired generators, which are designed to operate in ‘engine off’ mode enabling Liontown to operate from 100% renewable energy during periods of high wind and solar penetration.

LNG will be produced at the CEFA Mount Magnet Mid-West LNG Hub located at Mt Magnet, around 370 km from Kathleen Valley. The hub is directly connected to the Mid-West Gas Pipeline, which connects to the Dampier to Bunbury Gas Pipeline, providing access to natural gas fields in the mid-West and North-West

The 15-year supply contract aligns with the Zenith Power Purchase Agreement and enables flexibility for quantities and access to ‘sprint’ capacity as required throughout the contract period, the company says. This will support the company’s target to be at least 60% renewably powered from start-up, while having 100% thermal power redundancy for the operation. The contract comprises fixed and variable charges for gas supply, liquification and transport.

LNG supply will commence in January 2024 to support planned early plant commissioning activities.

Zinnwald Lithium and Metso engaged in ‘one-stop shop’ studies for LiOH project

Zinnwald Lithium plc and Metso have continued to make progress developing the beneficiation plant concept for the integrated Zinnwald lithium project near Dresden, Germany.

This project, which is situated in the heart of the European chemical and automotive industries, is designed to supply battery-grade lithium hydroxide (LiOH) to the battery sector.

Anton du Plessis, CEO of Zinnwald Lithium, said: “Achieving resilience and sustainability for the electric vehicle battery supply chain is essential, including in Europe where over 30 new gigafactories are planned by 2030.

“Our vision is to build a world-leading integrated lithium hydroxide operation to support this supply chain, adhering to the highest environmental standards. We are therefore delighted with the progress being made with Metso as we look to design the best possible particle sorting, otherwise known as the beneficiation process, for the plant.”

Metso was engaged to assist Zinnwald Lithium with its definitive feasibility study in early 2022. The two companies have since been working on developing a successful beneficiation process flowsheet based on a complete mineralogical study, batch and locked cycle tests. The design basis of the tests considers the mixture of two distinctive lithium ore types, Alibite Granite and Quartz Mica Greisen, potentially expanding the resource base considerably.

du Plessis said: “After the completion of the beneficiation pilot, we will start refinement of the calcination and hydrometallurgical flowsheet. We have partnered with Metso to develop and deliver this project as a ‘one-stop shop’ to reduce the need for engagement with multiple suppliers and to maximise in-house expertise in the design of the plant from run-of-mine to the battery-grade final product.”

Mikko Rantaharju, Vice President, Hydrometallurgy at Metso, added: “Metso is delighted to support Zinnwald Lithium with the development of this ambitious project. Development and supply of state-of-the-art, sustainable processes and equipment for the critical minerals required for the electric vehicle supply chain is an essential part of our minerals processing expertise.”

Metso provides sustainable technology and equipment for all ore types, including the critical minerals required for the energy transition, supported by its unique Planet Positive offering.

Metso says its solutions for battery minerals cover the entire lithium, nickel and cobalt production chain – from the mine to battery materials and black mass recycling – with project scopes ranging from equipment packages to plant deliveries. For high-end lithium-ion battery chemicals production, Metso’s expertise covers the extraction of lithium from various lithium sources up to battery-grade lithium salts.

Epiroc Minetruck MT65 S haul trucks heading to Kathleen Valley lithium mine

Epiroc says it has won a large order for underground mining trucks in Australia from global mining contractor Byrnecut for use at the Kathleen Valley hard-rock lithium mine in Western Australia.

Byrnecut, one of the world’s largest underground mining contractors, has ordered a fleet of Minetruck MT65 S haulers as part of the order, valued at about SEK130 million ($11.9 million).

The equipment will be used at the in-development Kathleen Valley project, where lithium as well as tantalum will be produced. Production is currently targeted to begin in 2024.

Byrnecut was, earlier this year, awarded the underground mining services contract at Kathleen Valley by Liontown Resources.

Epiroc will also provide parts and service support, including service technicians on site.

Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s President and CEO, said: “We are excited to contribute to the success of the new Kathleen Valley mine, where the production of lithium, especially, will support the acceleration of the transformation to a low-carbon society.”

Sami Niiranen, President of Epiroc’s Underground division, added: “The newly updated Epiroc Minetruck MT65 S is a top-of-the-line machine designed with a focus on safety, productivity, energy efficiency and operator comfort. We look forward to continue working together with Byrnecut to make their mining operations successful.”

Epiroc and Byrnecut have a long-standing partnership, and the contractor already runs a fleet of Minetruck MT65 haulers at other mining site, the OEM says.

The ordered mining trucks have several advanced features, such as Epiroc’s telematics system Certiq, which allows for intelligent monitoring of machine performance and productivity in real-time. Delivery will begin soon and will continue in 2024 and 2025.