Tag Archives: Lithium

SMS group assigned to FEED work at Cinovec lithium project

European Metals Holdings (EMH) has appointed SMS group Process Technologies as the lead engineer for minerals processing and lithium battery-grade chemicals production at the Cinovec project in the Czech Republic.

Cinovec, a joint venture between European Metals (49%) and ČEZ Group (51%, through its subsidiary Severočeské doly), is operated by Geomet. The project has recently received investment of around €29 million ($34 million) of funding from EIT InnoEnergy, the principal facilitator and organiser of the European Battery Alliance, for the project, seeing it through to a construction decision.

Under the agreement, SMS group, a leader in plant construction and mechanical engineering for the technology metals and materials sector, will provide a complete front-end engineering design (FEED) study as the major component of the ongoing definitive feasibility study (DFS) work at Cinovec.

Under the agreement, SMS will provide the following to the Cinovec project:

  • Full process integration from the point of delivery of ore to the underground crusher through to the delivery of finished battery-grade lithium chemicals for battery and cathode manufacturers;
  • The FEED will include all of the process steps – comminution, beneficiation, roasting, leaching and purification;
  • The FEED will encompass both the lithium process flowsheet and the tin/tungsten recovery circuit delivering metal concentrates to refineries; and
  • The FEED is intended to deliver a binding fixed price lump sum turnkey engineering procurement and construction (EPC) contract with associated process guarantee and product specification guarantees for battery-grade lithium chemicals. The combination of these will greatly assist to underwrite project financing from leading European and global financial institutions lending into this new energy electric vehicle-led industrial revolution, European Metals Holdings says.

The FEED study will commence immediately and SMS group is expected to deliver the EPC contract, as the final component part of the Cinovec DFS, by the end of 2021.

Herbert Weissenbaeck, Senior Vice President for Strategic Project Development at SMS group, said: “Having successfully completed thorough technical due diligence, we believe in the compelling value proposition of Geomet’s Cinovec lithium/tin/tungsten project, which is set to become a cornerstone of the e-mobility driven European battery metals landscape. SMS group is delighted to deploy its second-to-none technology metals and materials production know-how and EPC capabilities into this exciting project.”

EMH Executive Chairman, Keith Coughlan, added: “SMS is the ideal engineering partner for the Cinovec project as it is based in neighbouring Germany with a globally-respected process design capability. The appointment of SMS is the culmination of a negotiation and due diligence process that has lasted over a year.

“EMH, Geomet and ČEZ have all been consistently impressed by SMS group’s capabilities and insights into the development of efficient high recovery plants capable of producing very high quality end-products. Successful delivery of the FEED study will provide a gateway to financing institutions and offtakers of the highest quality. We believe that the intended product and process guarantees will greatly enhance the project finance either directly through commercial lenders or through the recently announced collaborative agreement with EIT InnoEnergy.”

A 2019 prefeasibility study on Cinovec outlined a 1.68 Mt/y operation producing 25,267 t of battery-grade lithium hydroxide over a mine life of 21 years. This came with a capital cost of $482.6 million.

AVZ readies infrastructure tenders for Manono lithium project

AVZ Minerals has issued a raft of ‘pre-mining’ infrastructure package tenders for its Manono lithium-tin project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The tenders, which will be awarded once AVZ makes a final investment decision on Manono, are estimated to be collectively worth about $300 million.

Included are the process plants engineering procurement and construction package, the Kabondo Dianda intermodal staging station, diesel storage facilities and supply package, site buildings and enterprise resource systems.

AVZ’s Managing Director, Nigel Ferguson, said: “We will have final pricings on our various tenders back in July and August and then expect to be in a position to award these contracts, pending COVID-19 travel restrictions being lifted and a financial investment decision being reached.”

The Manono project is owned by AVZ (60%), La Congolaise d’Exploitation Minière SA (30%) and Dathomir Mining Resources SARL (10%).

An April feasibility study highlighted a 20-year mine open-pit mine life producing 700,000 t/y of high-grade spodumene concentrate lithium and 45,375 t/y of primary lithium sulphate. Within this plan, the pre-production capital expenditure of $545.5 million included transport upgrade and rehabilitation of the Mpiana Mwanga Hydroelectric Power Plant.

Piedmont locks in Primero for lithium concentrator development

Piedmont Lithium has entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Primero Group that could see the Australia-based engineering firm deliver the planned spodumene concentrator at the Piedmont lithium project in North Carolina, USA.

Piedmont says it and Primero have partnered since early 2018, with Primero having been the lead engineering consultant for Piedmont’s scoping studies, concentrator design, and metallurgical test work management.

“Building on this strong relationship, Piedmont and Primero have entered into the MoU to work together on an exclusive basis to agree binding documentation relating to the definitive feasibility study (DFS), front-end engineering design, EPC (engineering procurement and construction) delivery, commissioning, ramp-up and contract operations of the spodumene concentrator,” Piedmont said.

Referencing previous work of Primero’s, Piedmont said the engineering firm’s EPC and contract operations services at Alliance Minerals’ Bald Hill mine, in Australia, notably achieved nameplate capacity within two months of plant commissioning.

Cameron Henry, Managing Director of Primero, commented: “Piedmont is a world-class project surrounded by infrastructure and ideally located near potential customers in the USA’s auto alley.

“We look forward to applying our specialist expertise in project implementation and operations to assist Piedmont in advancing the only spodumene project currently under development in the United States.”

Keith D Phillips, President and CEO of Piedmont, said the MoU represented a key milestone as the company builds out its project execution team, “with an emphasis on working with proven processes and experienced professionals”.

The EPC and operations contract models contemplated by the MOU provide incentives for Primero to achieve safety, schedule, budget, process performance, production, and recovery targets, Piedmont said.

“The arrangements contemplated by the MoU create a delivery framework which significantly reduces technical, operational and commercial risks associated with the concentrator,” it added.

“The company continues to evaluate other strategic partnerships that could enhance performance in the design, construction and operations of other aspects of Piedmont’s integrated lithium hydroxide business.”

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.

Eriez’s flotation pipeline looks sound as testing requests grow

Eriez’s Flotation Division continues to benefit from its investments in testing capabilities at its Central Test Lab (CTL) in Erie, Pennsylvania, with the company saying its technical services business has doubled since 2015.

Eriez maintains an assortment of bench and pilot-scale equipment for both laboratory and in-field evaluations, with the flotation division conducting on-site testing for clients at its 15,000 sq.ft (1,394 sq.m) CTL in Erie.

“EFD can test and provide detailed process analysis and state-of-the-art solutions for nearly any application,” the company says. “In addition to testing, technical services are performed by a large team of mineral processing engineers. EFD’s highly experienced and qualified team is available to evaluate process flowsheets and conduct field trials and start-ups.”

Eriez’ on-site testing services provide quantitative data generated on a demonstration scale in the plant environment. The flotation division also excels at improving plant performance by conducting circuit evaluations, determining optimum operating conditions and finding solutions for common problems, according to the company.

To bolster this expertise, Eriez recently made significant investments in its in-house analytical capabilities to meet growing demand.

“In addition to flotation equipment, CTL houses all of Eriez’ core products – such as magnets, vibratory, screening, metal detection and filtration equipment – as well as an XRF (X-ray Fluorescence) analytical machine and ICP-OES (Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometry) for assay determination. This allows Eriez to conduct in-house metallurgical control analyses to allow for faster turnaround for its customers.”

Eric Yan, EFD Deputy Managing Director, said the last year had been “full of great opportunities” and growth for testing services.

“We have been working on several large-scale flowsheet development projects for clients in phosphate, potash and sulphide mineral industries,” he said. “We also have some exciting processes which allow our clients to recover their waste streams.

“We look forward to continuing to expand and advance our testing services offerings to support our valued customers.”

This is not the only area of growth for Eriez.

The company reports that sales of its Dry Vibrating Magnetic Filters (DVMFs) have been steadily escalating in line with ongoing increased worldwide lithium production, driven by growing demand for lithium-ion batteries.

Eriez DVMFs are specifically designed to remove very fine iron-bearing contaminants from hard-to-flow fine powders, such as lithium, being well-suited for both lithium producers and users.

Producers pulverise lithium before it goes to the user as a very fine powder, with DVMF units placed prior to and after mill processing. As an additional check, users can apply the DVMF when they receive lithium purchased from the producer.

Eriez said DVMF sales are climbing across the globe, most significantly in top lithium producing countries such as Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, China and the US.

Eriez Director of Minerals and Materials Processing, Jose Marin, says: “We project DVMF sales will continue to soar in upcoming years as producers work to meet growing demand for lithium-ion batteries used in electronic consumer devices as well as electric and hybrid vehicles.”

Outotec test work stacks up for Keliber lithium project

Lithium explorer and developer, Keliber Oy, says a continuous lithium hydroxide pilot project conducted using its own ore has demonstrated the functionality of its planned production process.

High purity lithium hydroxide was produced in the pilot, which was the last part of a three-phase continuous piloting program, it said.

Keliber previously completed a definitive feasibility study (DFS) for a project to produce 11,000 t/y of battery-grade lithium carbonate from spodumene-rich pegmatite deposits in Central Ostrobothnia, Finland.

One of the more interesting features of the project is the processing route. Instead of conventional sulphide roasting route to produce a carbonate, Keliber plans to use Outotec’s soda leaching process. This comes after conventional spodumene concentration and conversion of alpha to beta spodumene in a rotary kiln.

The LiOH pilot was operated at the Outotec R&D centre in January 2020. “The goals of the continuous LiOH pilot were to produce battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate, to optimise the process flowsheet, including process parameters of the production process, and to demonstrate the functionality of the chosen production technology,” Keliber said.

The goals of the 14-day continuous pilot test were met, according to the company. “The purity of the product received with a single crystallisation stage was extremely high. The lithium recovery in the process was high and better than the one used in the DFS released in February 2019.”

In the first and second phase of the pilot program in late 2019, the conversion and calcination processes were tested successfully with good results, the company added.

Pertti Lamberg, CEO of Keliber, said: “A successful test program using our own ore and including all the process stages demonstrates the functionality and strength of the chosen technology. This is an important milestone and we can safely continue the detailed design of the process based on these results.”

Sami Heikkinen, Chemical Plant Manager, said: “We have proven with Outotec our ability to produce high-purity, battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate, our desired end-product, with good extraction. It is really important for Keliber that we can verify the functionality of our cleantech process.”

Miners need to do more in climate change, decarbonisation battle, McKinsey says

A report from consultancy McKinsey has raised concerns about the mining industry’s climate change and decarbonisation strategy, arguing it may not go far enough in reducing emissions in the face of pressure from governments, investors, and activists.

The report, Climate risk and decarbonization: What every mining CEO needs to know, from Lindsay Delevingne, Will Glazener, Liesbet Grégoir, and Kimberly Henderson, explains that extreme weather – tied to the potential effects of climate change – is already disrupting mining operations globally.

“Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, 195 countries pledged to limit global warming to well below 2.0°C, and ideally not more than 1.5°C above preindustrial levels,” the authors said. “That target, if pursued, would manifest in decarbonisation across industries, creating major shifts in commodity demand for the mining industry and likely resulting in declining global mining revenue pools.”

They added: “Mining-portfolio evaluation must now account for potential decarbonisation of other sectors.”

The sector will also face pressure from governments, investors, and society to reduce emissions, according to the authors.

“Mining is currently responsible for 4-7% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally. Scope 1 and Scope 2 CO2 emissions from the sector (those incurred through mining operations and power consumption, respectively) amount to 1%, and fugitive methane emissions from coal mining are estimated at 3-6%.

“A significant share of global emissions – 28% – would be considered Scope 3 (indirect) emissions, including the combustion of coal.”

While there have been a number of high-profile mining companies making carbon emission pledges in the past 18 months – BHP pledging $400 million of investment in a low carbon plan being one notable example – the authors say the industry has only just begun to set emissions-reduction goals.

“Current targets published by mining companies range from 0-30% by 2030, far below the Paris Agreement goals, which may not be ambitious enough in many cases,” they said.

Through operational efficiency, and electrification and renewable-energy use, mines can theoretically fully decarbonise (excluding fugitive methane), according to the authors, with the disclaimer that building a climate strategy, “won’t be quick or easy”.

Water/heat

Water stress was one area the authors homed in on, saying that climate change is expected to cause more frequent droughts and floods, altering the supply of water to mining sites and disrupting operations.

The authors, using McKinsey’s MineSpans database on copper, gold, iron ore, and zinc, recently ran and analysed a water-stress and flooding scenario to emphasise the incoming problems.

The authors found that 30-50% of the production of these four commodities is concentrated in areas where water stress is already “high”.

“In 2017, these sites accounted for roughly $150 billion in total annual revenues and were clustered into seven water-stress ‘hot spots’ for mining: Central Asia, the Chilean coast, eastern Australia, the Middle East, southern Africa, western Australia, and a large zone in western North America,” the authors said.

The authors continued: “Climate science indicates that these hot spots will worsen in the coming decades. In Chile, 80% of copper production is already located in ‘extremely high’ water-stressed and ‘arid’ areas; by 2040, it will be 100%. In Russia, 40% of the nation’s iron ore production, currently located in ‘high’ water-stressed areas, is likely to move to ‘extreme’ water stress by 2040.”

And, mining regions not accustomed to water stress are projected to become increasingly vulnerable, according to the report.

By 2040, 5% of current gold production likely will shift from ‘low–medium’ water stress to ‘medium–high’; 7% of zinc output could move from ‘medium–high’ to ‘high’ water stress, and 6% of copper production could shift from ‘high’ to ‘extremely high’ water stress.

The authors said: “Depending on the water-intensiveness of the processing approach, such changes, while seemingly minor in percentage terms, could be critical to a mine’s operations or licence to operate.”

Mining executives in these regions are acutely aware of the water issue, according to the authors.

“For instance, Leagold Mining recently shut down its RDM gold mine in Brazil for two months because of drought conditions, even though it had built a dam and a water pipeline,” they said.

Even in areas with low water stress, certain water-intensive mining processes are jeopardised.

“In Germany – not a country known for being vulnerable to drought – a potash miner was forced to close two locations because of severe water shortages in the summer of 2018, losing nearly $2 million a day per site,” they said.

“The frequency and severity of these conditions are expected to increase along with the current climate trajectory.”

To improve resiliency, companies can reduce the water intensity of their mining processes, the authors said. They can also recycle used water and reduce water loss from evaporation, leaks, and waste. Mining companies can, for example, prevent evaporation by putting covers on small and medium dams.

In the long term, more capital-intensive approaches are possible, according to the authors. This could involve new water infrastructure, such as dams and desalination plants. Companies can also rely on so-called “natural capital”, like wetland areas, to improve groundwater drainage.

The authors said: “The option of securing water rights is becoming harder and can take years of engagement because of increased competition for natural resources and tensions between operators and local communities. Basin and regional planning with regulatory and civic groups is an important strategy but cannot alone solve the underlying problem of water stress.”

On the reverse, flooding from extreme rains can also cause operational disruptions, including mine closure, washed-out roads, or unsafe water levels in tailing dams, with flooding affecting some commodities more than others based on their locations.

The authors’ analysis showed iron ore and zinc are the most exposed to ‘extremely high’ flood occurrence, at 50% and 40% of global volume, respectively.

“The problem is expected to get worse, particularly in six ‘wet spots’ likely to experience a 50-60% increase in extreme precipitation this century: northern Australia, South America, and southern Africa during Southern Hemisphere summer, and central and western Africa, India and Southeast Asia, and Indonesia during Southern Hemisphere winter,” the authors said.

Companies can adopt flood-proof mine designs that improve drainage and pumping techniques, the authors said, mentioning the adaptation of roads, or the building of sheeted haul roads, as examples.

Moving to an in-pit crushing and conveying method would also help alleviate potential floods, replacing mine site haulage and haul roads with conveyors.

When it comes to incoming extreme heat in already-hot places – like China, parts of North and West Africa and Australia – the authors noted that worker productivity could fall and cooling costs may rise, in additon to putting workers’ health (and sometimes their lives) at risk.

“Indirect socioeconomic consequences from climate change can also affect the political environment surrounding a mine,” they said.

Shifting commodity demand

Ongoing decarbonisation is likely to have a major impact on coal – “currently about 50% of the global mining market, would be the most obvious victim of such shifts”, the authors said – but it would also affect virgin-ore markets.

“In a 2°C scenario, bauxite, copper, and iron ore will see growth from new decarbonisation technologies offset by increased recycling rates, as a result of the growing circular economy and focus on metal production from recycling versus virgin ore,” they said.

At the other end of the spectrum, niche minerals could experience dramatic growth. As the global electrification of industries continues, electric vehicles and batteries will create growth markets for cobalt, lithium, and nickel.

Emerging technologies such as hydrogen fuel cells and carbon capture would also boost demand for platinum, palladium, and other catalyst materials, while rare earths would be needed for wind-turbine magnets.

The authors said: “Fully replacing revenues from coal will be difficult. Yet many of the world’s biggest mining companies will need to rebalance non-diverse mineral portfolios.

“Many of the largest mining companies derive the bulk of their earnings from one or two commodities. Copper-heavy portfolios may benefit from demand growth due to widespread electrification, for example. And iron ore- and aluminium-heavy portfolios may see an upside from decarbonisation technologies, but they are also more likely to be hit by rising recycling rates.”

According to the authors, the mining industry generates between 1.9 and 5.1 gigatons of CO2-equivalent of annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Further down the value chain (Scope 3 emissions), the metals industry contributes roughly 4.2 gigatons, mainly through steel and aluminium production.

To stay on track for a global 2°C scenario, all sectors would need to reduce CO2 emissions from 2010 levels by at least 50% by 2050, they said.

To limit warming to 1.5°C, a reduction of at least 85% would likely be needed.

“Mining companies’ published emissions targets tend to be more modest than that, setting low targets, not setting targets beyond the early 2020s, or focusing on emissions intensity rather than absolute numbers,” the authors said.

To estimate decarbonisation potential in mining, the authors started with a baseline of current emissions by fuel source, based on the MineSpans database of mines’ operational characteristics, overlaid with the possible impact of, and constraints on, several mining decarbonisation levers.

The potential for mines varied by commodity, mine type, power source, and grid emissions, among other factors.

“Across the industry, non-coal mines could fully decarbonise by using multiple levers. Some are more economical than others – operational efficiency, for example, can make incremental improvements to the energy intensity of mining production while requiring little capital expenditure,” they said. Moving to renewable sources of electricity is becoming increasingly feasible too, even in off-grid environments, as the cost of battery packs is projected to decline 50% from 2017 to 2030, according to the authors.

“Electrification of mining equipment, such as diesel trucks and gas-consuming appliances, is only starting to become economical. Right now, only 0.5% of mining equipment is fully electric.

“However, in some cases, battery-electric vehicles have a 20% lower total cost of ownership versus traditional internal-combustion-engine vehicles. Newmont, for example, recently started production at its all-electric Borden mine in Ontario, Canada.”

The authors said: “Several big mining companies have installed their own sustainability committees, signalling that mining is joining the wave of corporate sustainability reporting and activity. Reporting emissions and understanding decarbonisation pathways are the first steps toward setting targets and taking action.”

Yet, these actions are currently too modest to reach the 1.5-2°C scenario and may not be keeping up with society’s expectations – “as increasingly voiced by investors seeking disclosures, companies asking their suppliers to decarbonise, and communities advocating for action on environmental issues”.

They concluded: “Mining companies concerned about their long-term reputation, licence to operate, or contribution to decarbonisation efforts may start to consider more aggressive decarbonisation and resilience plans.”

ioneer secures 60% of Rhyolite Ridge sulphur needs with Shell LOI

ioneer says it has signed a letter of intent (LOI) with Shell Canada Energy that will see the lithium-boron developer purchase up to 250,000 t/y of high-quality sulphur for its Rhyolite Ridge project in Nevada, USA.

This amount represents around 60% of the estimated annual sulphur requirement for the project, ioneer said.

“The signing of the LOI is one of the first steps to securing key reagents for the proposed acid leaching of the project’s lithium-boron Searlesite ore,” the company said, adding that both ioneer and Shell were working on turning the LOI into a binding supply agreement.

A prefeasibility study on Rhyolite Ridge, completed in October 2018, estimated production of 20,200 t/y of lithium carbonate and 173,000 t/y of boric acid, with production from 2021 and a 30-year mine life.

Managing Director of ioneer, Bernard Rowe, said: “Sulphur is the key input for the acid plant that is the heart of the proposed processing facility as it will provide the acid required for leaching the ore as well as all of the power and steam required to produce the lithium carbonate and boric acid at Rhyolite Ridge.”

Mining EPC/EPCM space in transition mode, Ausenco’s Ebbett says

The past 12 months has been an interesting period for the mining EPC/EPCM space with miners looking to offload more risk and leverage new technology to improve design accuracy, reduce cost and shorten the time between construction and production.

Ahead of the annual focus on this sector, to be published in International Mining’s December issue, IM heard from Ausenco’s Vice President of Global Project Delivery, John Ebbert, on the recent trends affecting the project design, construction and delivery market.

IM: In the past 12 months, how has the market for mining EPCM contracts evolved? Do some of the big contract awards to the likes of WorleyParsons (Koodaideri), Bechtel (QBII) indicate a shift in the type of contracts/services some of the big projects/companies are now looking for?

JE: These large project awards are in line with increased mining investment. The market is moving towards a greater level of integration between owners and EPCM service providers with a focus on minimising risks typically associated with mega projects. This is not only the case in the mining sector; we are seeing similar trends in other sectors. This shift reflects the capacity of each contracting party to accept risk. During periods of reduced activity, contractors need to accept greater risk (EPC) to protect their revenue and margins. Conversely in periods of greater project activity, contractors are able to realise similar margins on a risk-free basis (EPCM).

IM: Over the same time period, has automation become more firmly entrenched in mine engineering plans? Are big open-pit mines now being designed to facilitate autonomous equipment or a combination of manned and autonomous equipment?

JE: Automation is considered at all stages of project development. The productivity and efficiency gains afforded by automation and digitisation help de-risk or improve return on investment, something owners always aim to achieve. The level and application of automation ranges from simply reducing dependency on operators, through to the creation of digital twins that support asset optimisation using advanced analysis techniques. Not only are we designing mines that support and enable automation, we are also designing to enable advanced data and analytics processes.

IM: For underground mine design, how has the evolution of mine electrification influenced design? Is the use of this equipment enabling mines to go deeper on ramps than they were previously able to (thanks to reduced ventilation needs)?

JE: The evolution of mine electrification emphasises the need for flexible mine design that will accommodate new and emerging technology predicted to be mainstream in the not-so-distant future. Adequately ventilating underground mines is a challenge due to the sheer volume of power required to move and potentially cool the air. Not only does the shift away from diesel-powered equipment towards electrification have well documented health and environmental benefits, it also allows greater flexibility in development cycles, mining at greater depths and increased productivity as ventilation requirements to maintain a safe environment for personnel are lower.

IM: In terms of the project pipeline, what are the big contract awards to look out for in the mining space over the next 12 months?

JE: From a global market perspective, we are expecting continued demand for and investment in metals such as copper, lithium and cobalt in line with the increasing global demand for electric vehicles. Similarly, due to global trade and market uncertainty, gold is likely to remain a strong player in the next 12 months.

Snow Lake, DRA and Steinert investigate ore sorting at lithium project

Snow Lake Resources is the latest company to eye up ore sorting to reduce costs and increase productivity, with the exploration company asking DRA Global to come up with an effective strategy for its Thompson Brothers lithium project, in Manitoba, Canada.

Brent Hilscher of DRA will be in charge of this ore sorting project, examining the best laser or X-ray method to help separate out waste material from the spodumene pegmatite at Thompson Brothers, thereby increasing the overall grade of the final product at a low cost per tonne.

Snow Lake has collected 120 scoping samples from the company’s drill core library as part of this test work, with these samples to be sent to Steinert in Kentucky, USA, for analysis.

The company also created four bench test “bulk samples” from the existing core library, which will be used as trial material at Steinert on a full-scale ore-sorting machine once DRA Global concludes the appropriate algorithm for sorting, it said.

As part of the ore-sorting strategy, the company says it will need a higher degree of understanding of the mineral assemblage of the spodumene pegmatites at its project.

The company has, so far, collected nine core samples from the company’s core library and left them with the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) in Saskatoon, Canada. These samples will go through QEM-SCAN petrography analysis at SRC, providing DRA with a report on the mineral assemblage of the pegmatite.

From the nine samples, the company will select three samples for microprobe analysis of the various mineral phase.

Snow Lake said: “These studies will give the company an understanding of the mineral chemistry of the feldspar phases. This will help support the X-ray sorting works, as there may be a chemical element that the X-ray sorter can focus on to eliminate the feldspars from the spodumene pegmatite feed.”

As part of a bulk sample program for 2020, the company will also provide samples to SRC to conduct acid–base accounting testing to help assess the acid-producing and acid-neutralising potential of rocks prior to large-scale excavations at the project.

Snow Lake is expecting to publish a maiden indicated resource on the Thompson Brothers project in the near term, given that the company, its consultants and external laboratories have all the data in hand for the study.

SIMPEC to help with plant handover at Tianqi Lithium’s Kwinana plant

SIMPEC has added to its existing scope of works at the Tianqi Lithium-owned lithium hydroxide process plant (LHPP1) in Kwinana, Western Australia, with a new A$5 million ($3.34 million) contract to carry out structural, mechanical, piping, and electrical and instrumentation work at the operation.

This work, which comes on top of the pyromet piping installation contract the WestStar Industrial subsidiary was awarded by lead contractor MSP Engineering in 2018, will assist Tianqi with the handover of the plant to the operations team.

SIMPEC Managing Director, Mark Dimasi, said: “This award is a true reflection of our team’s performance to date on the LHPP1 project. An outstanding effort by everyone involved. I personally would like to thank all the MSP Engineering personnel for supporting our team over the past 10 months and Tianqi Lithium Kwinana for backing the incumbent SIMPEC site team.”

This new contract builds on previously announced extensions during the company’s 2020 financial year and brings contract awards received during the first half of this period to circa-A$23 million.