Tag Archives: spodumene

Piedmont Lithium enlists SGS Canada for pilot-scale spodumene work

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.

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.

Mali Lithium enlists Lycopodium for Goulamina spodumene DFS

Australia-listed Mali Lithium has appointed Lycopodium Minerals Pty Ltd to complete the definitive feasibility study (DFS) for the Goulamina lithium project, in Mali.

A July 2018 prefeasibility study on Goulamina outlined an open-pit hard rock mining operation with a 2 Mt/y concentrating plant. The project was scoped to produce 362,000 t/y of 6% Li2O spodumene concentrate over a 16-year mine life.

Mali Lithium, formerly Birimian, said Lycopodium was an obvious fit for Goulamina given the over 25 years of experience the company had with the development and execution of projects in Africa. “Lycopodium is a recognised leader in the delivery of mining projects with an exceptionally strong capability in the development of projects in West Africa,” the company added.

In Africa in the past two years alone, Lycopodium has designed, constructed and commissioned seven greenfield projects, and is also currently developing a further three process plants, according to Mali Lithium.

“Lycopodium’s appointment for this critical piece of project development work is testament to both the company’s commitment to, and the prospectivity of, the Goulamina lithium project,” Mali Lithium said, adding that its own in-house team will work closely with Lycopodium to develop the DFS.

Mali Lithium Managing Director, Chris Evans, said: “We are pleased to have secured a company of Lycopodium’s calibre, with a proven track record of delivering important pieces of work like the Goulamina DFS in a timely and efficient manner.

“We look forward to working closely with Lycopodium over the coming period and we are excited by what the outcomes of this DFS will be.”

Birimian charges DRA Global with flowsheet optimisation at Goulamina lithium project

ASX-listed lithium hopeful, Birimian, says it has selected DRA Global to provide engineering services to optimise the process flowsheet for the Goulamina lithium project in Mali.

The scope of work will include the following deliverables, Birimian said:

  • Review and interpretation of the metallurgical test work;
  • Process design criteria;
  • Mass and water balance;
  • Block flow diagram;
  • Process flow diagrams, and;
  • Mechanical equipment list.

Birimian said the work is key to developing and optimising the design of the process plant for Goulamina and to the subsequent production of a capital cost estimate to the +/-10% level of accuracy required for the definitive feasibility study (DFS). The DFS is due for completion in the March quarter of 2020.

DRA has recently been involved in the execution of number of lithium studies and projects, with the key personnel assigned to Birimian having played an integral role in the design and commissioning of three lithium projects in Western Australia in the last 12 months, Birimian said.

“[They] will contribute an unrivalled combination of knowledge and experience in an area which is crucial to the success of the Goulamina lithium project,” the company said.

The recommended development scenario as outlined in a 2018 updated prefeasibility study showed an open-pit mining operation and a 2 Mt/y mineral concentrating plant, able to produce 362,000 t/y of 6% Li2O spodumene concentrate. The maiden ore reserve came in at 31.2 Mt at 1.56% Li2O, which was derived from an indicated mineral resource of 43.7 Mt at 1.48% Li2O, supporting a 16-year operating life at 2 Mt/y.

Pilbara Minerals and POSCO move a step closer to lithium chemical production JV

The Pilbara Minerals Board has conditionally exercised its option to enter into an incorporated joint venture with POSCO (for up to 30% participation) for the development of a downstream lithium chemical conversion facility in South Korea.

Pilbara Minerals’ Managing Director and CEO, Ken Brinsden, said the company’s relationship with POSCO had developed over the last year as it has continued to work through the Pilgangoora lithium project joint venture.

“It has been really pleasing to see the positive results generated by the due diligence work to date. The significant investment by POSCO into their PosLX technology has paid off and they have proven their ability to produce an industry leading, battery-ready lithium product through their innovative lithium purification process,” he said.

On October 2, 2018, Pilbara Minerals produced its first spodumene concentrate shipment from Pilgangoora. A total of 8,800 t (wet) of spodumene concentrate grading approximately 6.1% lithia and 1.2% Fe2O3 set sail from Port Hedland bound for the company’s offtake partners in north Asia.

The company’s agreement with POSCO encompasses long-term offtake, funding and the downstream conversion plant joint venture opportunity.

Brinsden said the rapid growth in lithium chemicals consumption in South Korea could see the country’s battery manufacturing sector supply around 25% of worldwide capacity by 2028, according to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.

The downstream lithium facility, to be located in the Gwangyang Free Economic Zone in South Korea, would have up to 40,000 t/y of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) capacity and process spodumene from Pilgangoora using POSCO’s patented PosLX purification process.

Since the December quarter, Pilbara Minerals has been undertaking technical due diligence to assess the proposed chemical plant development and work to date has delivered promising results, it said.

“Due diligence has included a visit of technical staff and assessment of POSCO’s existing commercial operations plant using their PosLX technology, based on Pilbara Minerals’ spodumene delivered from the Pilgangoora project,” Pilbara Minerals said.

POSCO has developed its first commercial-scale operation (after the initial development of a pilot scale plant) that produces up to 2,500 t/y of lithium chemicals on an LCE basis, according to Pilbara Minerals. Based on spodumene chemical conversion, the plant has the capacity and flexibility to produce both high grade lithium hydroxide, or, alternately, lithium carbonate products with low impurities in the final products produced.

Pilbara Minerals said: “The battery grade lithium hydroxide produced has to date been tested by major South Korean cathode makers and has passed their qualification process.”

Once a number of conditions surrounding the deal are complete, they will be put to the Board of Pilbara Minerals for a final decision and commitment to the joint development in mid- to late-May 2019. The parties would then aim to complete construction of the chemical conversion plant in late 2020 with commencement of ramp-up and production from early 2021.

Outotec to help convert spodumene into lithium hydroxide in Australia

Outotec says it has been awarded a contract for the delivery of filtration technology and services for a lithium processing plant in Australia.

The order, expected to total around €12 million ($13.7 million), has been booked in Outotec’s 2019 March quarter order intake.

The mineral processing equipment company’s scope in this order includes design and delivery of proprietary Outotec© Larox pressure filters as well as installation and commissioning advisory services and spare parts, it said.

When complete, the plant will convert spodumene concentrate into lithium hydroxide.

Kimmo Kontola, Head of Outotec’s Minerals Processing Business, said: “At Outotec, we have expertise to offer sustainable solutions for extracting lithium from brines and spodumene ores up to battery-grade lithium salts. We are well positioned in this growing market for lithium processing technologies.”

Primero, Qube and Lucas TCS named contractors at Core’s Finniss lithium project

Australia-based Core Lithium has awarded preferred contractor status for three key components of its 100%-owned Finniss lithium project, near Darwin in the Northern Territory.

The three contractors are key participants in the development team Core is assembling following the granting of the first mining licence earlier this month, it said.

Primero Group has been named the preferred engineering procurement and construction (EPC), and front-end engineering and design (FEED) contractor. Primero has worked on several Australia hard-rock lithium projects including Pilbara Minerals’ Pilgangoora operation and Tawana/Alliance’s Bald Hill mine.

Meanwhile, Qube Bulk Pty has received the status of preferred provider of haulage and transport solutions for Finniss, with Lucas Total Contract Solutions selected as preferred mining services contractor.

Core said it would work with all three companies to finalise contract terms that “reflect the most cost-effective and time-efficient solution for Finniss”.

The FEED study by Primero is underway to improve the accuracy of the EPC estimate on the 1 Mt/y processing plant and associated infrastructure at Finniss, the company said.

In line with its construction schedule, Core is targeting first production of spodumene concentrate from Finniss by the end of 2019.

Core’s Managing Director, Stephen Biggins, said: “These key contract roles are crucial for the success of the Finniss lithium project, so we did not make our decisions on who should be awarded these packages of work lightly. We believe we have selected the best contractors for the respective contracts out a field of worthy contractors, and look forward to working with Primero, Lucas TCS and Qube once the contracts have been finalised and the next phases of work at Finniss get underway.”

He added that final award of the contracts would follow the completion and release of a definitive feasibility study on Finniss, in addition to financing of the project.

Core’s development of Finniss is initially centred on production from the high-grade Grants deposit as an open-pit mining operation and construction of a 1 Mt/y dense media separation process plant to produce a 5% Li2O spodumene concentrate for export.

The prefeasibility study on the project envisaged a total capex of A$53.55 million ($38 million) and A$168 million (pre-tax) in free cash generation over a period of 26 months based on a price of $649/t for its concentrate.

Altura Mining ships first lithium concentrate to Chinese offtake partner

The first shipment of spodumene concentrate from Altura Mining’s lithium project in Western Australia has set sail from Port Hedland.

The vessel, ‘MV Clipper Tenacious’, was loaded with approximately 5,000 t of concentrate and is headed for Altura’s offtake partner Lionergy in China.

The focus for Altura is now the ongoing ramp-up of production to the nameplate capacity of 220,000 t/y of 6% LiO2 concentrate and regular shipments, Altura said, with the next shipment expected to depart in late October.

Altura Mining Managing Director James Brown said the company was now part of the “lithium-ion battery revolution”.

“A little bit of the Pilbara will now be found in the car, mobile phones and static storage batteries of the future.”

It was only in July, Altura declared first concentrate output from its mine, 16 months after the company broke ground on the project and two months since crushing operations began.