Tag Archives: spodumene

NRW’s Primero to work on Pilgangoora P680 Expansion Project

NRW Holdings subsidiary, Primero Group, has been awarded a contract by Pilgangoora Operations Pty Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pilbara Minerals Limited, for work at the lithium processing plant that is part of the wider Pilgangoora operation, in Western Australia.

The works to be performed under the contract include upgrading the existing Pilgan lithium processing plant through the construction of a new primary rejection facility and preliminary work in connection with a new crushing and ore sorting facility.

Under the contract, Primero will be responsible for detailed earth and concrete works associated with both the primary rejection and crushing and sorting facilities, together with structural, mechanical, piping, electrical and instrumentation installation associated with the primary rejection facility. Primero will also assist with shutdown, brownfield’s integration and commissioning support to tie the facility into the existing Pilgan plant.

The contract is scheduled to run for approximately eight months, commencing in January 2023, and has an approximate value of A$62 million ($44 million).

NRW Managing Director, Jules Pemberton, said: “This contract builds on a long-term association between POPL and Primero that began with Primero’s involvement in the design and construction of the original Pilgan plant. We look forward to the successful completion of these works.”

The construction activities due to take place on the plant are part of the wider P680 Expansion Project Pilbara Minerals is working on. This could see the company 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.

Pilbara Minerals and Calix commit to lithium calcination tech demo plant at Pilgangoora

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.”

Tianqi and IGO herald battery-grade lithium milestone at Kwinana refinery

Tianqi Lithium Energy Australia Pty Ltd (TLEA) has announced first production of battery-grade lithium from its plant in Kwinana, Western Australia, marking the first time battery-grade lithium, or lithium hydroxide monohydrate (LHM), has been produced in Australia in commercial quantities.

This is a significant milestone for TLEA and Australian mining as the sector expands to meet rapidly growing demand for rechargeable batteries, primarily from the electric vehicle and energy storage system industries, TLEA, a joint venture between IGO (49%) and Tianqi Lithium (51%), says.

TLEA’s Kwinana plant has successfully met internal certification processes with the on-site laboratory confirming that battery-grade specification has been met on 10 t of lithium hydroxide, produced consistently over several days. Samples have been sent for independent verification, TLEA says.

The next step in the plant’s ramp-up process is customer qualification, which will be completed over the next four to eight months. During this time, the plant will continue to focus on stable, consistent and reliable production of battery-grade lithium.

“We are immensely proud to demonstrate that Australia can value add to its minerals onshore as it enhances its reputation as a critical contributor to the production of batteries for electric vehicles and energy storage, which are absolutely vital for the decarbonisation of the world’s economy,” TLK Chief Operating Officer, Raj Surendran, said.

“This is an exciting time for our shareholders, suppliers and service providers who have contributed to the construction and ramp-up of the Kwinana Plant, and our employees who have worked so hard to turn the dream of producing battery-grade lithium hydroxide in Australia into a reality.

“Today’s milestone proves Australia has the capability and expertise to transition from a ‘dig it and ship it’ minerals supplier to a downstream supplier of value-added product.

“However, we also remain acutely aware that there is more work to do to establish the Kwinana plant as a reliable, significant producer of battery-grade lithium, starting with customer acceptance.”

TLEA owns the first lithium hydroxide plant in Australia and the largest in the world to be built and operated outside of China. Lithium hydroxide produced at the plant will be containerised and exported from the Port of Fremantle to customers around the globe.

Surendran said the first train at TLEA’s Kwinana Plant will now continue its ramp-up towards its nameplate capacity of 24,000 t/y of battery grade lithium hydroxide.

Lithium hydroxide is a lithium-based compound derived from spodumene, a lithium-bearing pegmatite mineral. Spodumene is sourced directly from the Greenbushes mine 250 km southwest of Kwinana (Albemarle 50%, Tianqi Corporation 25%, IGO Ltd 25%).

ABB to help Savannah with move towards carbon-neutral lithium production at Barroso

ABB and Savannah Resources have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to explore industrial automation and smart electrification solutions for the development of the Barroso lithium project in northern Portugal.

Under the early-stage agreement, ABB will apply its technical expertise to outline production control and process solutions for lithium concentrate production and integrated spodumene mining operations in line with Savannah’s target of zero emission operations by 2030.

Barroso is 143 km northeast of Porto and is Europe’s largest known resource of hard-rock spodumene. Savannah’s objective is to develop an operation producing premium, carbon-neutral lithium concentrate as a strategic raw material in Europe’s electric vehicle battery supply chain. Local electricity, produced mainly from hydro, solar and wind energy with zero carbon emissions, would be used to provide power to the project.

ABB says its technology solutions are well aligned and would maximise the use of the renewable energy and electrification to move the project towards carbon-neutral production.

Savannah is focused on responsible development of Barroso by using 238 individual measures to eliminate or mitigate environmental impacts. These measures will be included in the definitive feasibility study on the project, which Savannah is currently completing. This will also incorporate the actions from the current project decarbonisation study, which supports Savannah’s commitment to target a zero emission operation by 2030 or earlier.

Just last month, Savannah signed an agreement with ECOPROGRESSO − Quadrante Group − a Portuguese consultant in environmental, sustainability, climate change and resources management to lead on the creation of a decarbonisation strategy for Barroso.

“ABB is at the forefront of the automation and electrification that is required for our decarbonisation journey,” David Archer, CEO of Savannah, said. “We are pleased to have their expertise as we continue to execute on our decarbonisation strategy to build Europe’s first lithium spodumene production facility, as a critical supplier of low carbon raw materials for more sustainable batteries.”

Frederik Esterhuizen, Hub Manager Central and South Europe & Australia, Process Industries, ABB, said: “The development of Savannah’s Barroso lithium project provides us with an additional opportunity to showcase ABB’s leadership in industrial automation and smart electrification in Europe, applied towards key operations for the emerging European battery supply chain. This is another step as we continue to enable more sustainable and fossil fuel free industrial operations.”

ABB will also work towards binding agreements with Savannah in relation to the electrification, automation and digital solutions in the future.

Primero rewarded with circa-A$290 million Mt Holland lithium concentrator contract

NRW Holdings’s wholly owned subsidiary Primero Group has been awarded the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract related to the Mt Holland concentrator project in Western Australia for Covalent Lithium, a joint venture between Wesfarmers and SQM.

The Mt Holland project has been worked on in various development phases over the past 18 months between the Covalent and Primero teams, with the planning and works now culminating in the full award of the circa-A$290 million ($214 million) EPC delivery contract, NRW said.

Primero has been awarded the EPC contract that will process ‘run of mine’ ore at a rate of circa 2 Mt/y and produce an output of circa 400,000 t/y of spodumene concentrate to feed the company’s integrated lithium hydroxide conversion refinery situated in Kwinana.

The project scope covers the vertical delivery of engineering design of all disciplines, procurement of all equipment and materials, site construction, commissioning and performance testing of the spodumene concentrator at the Mt Holland site.

The full execution will commence immediately with site works planned to commence in October and an expected peak workforce of 350 personnel, NRW said.

Primero Managing Director, Cameron Henry, said: “The award of the Mt Holland EPC contract is the culmination of an 18-month journey with the Covalent Lithium team and demonstrates the trust and solid working relationship between the groups in the development of the project. This project is not only a flagship project for Primero and our parent company, NRW Holdings, but also a major project for Western Australia and the further development of the state’s battery minerals supply chain.”

NRW CEO, Jules Pemberton, added: “We are pleased to see the continued growth of the Primero business and, in particular, the scale of projects and quality of clients they continue to attract to the group.

“The project has created opportunities for the combined businesses and provides a great platform for other clients to understand the depth, capability and capacity of the group as a whole from early project inception and feasibility through turnkey multi-discipline delivery and further.”

NRW Holdings recently acquired Primero in a cash and shares deal valuing Primero at around A$100 million.

HALMEK LITHIUM to work with Metso Outotec on lithium hydroxide plant

HALMEK LITHIUM has selected Metso Outotec’s patented lithium hydroxide process for production of battery-grade lithium hydroxide at its greenfield plant in the Tula region in Russia.

The order value, which is not disclosed, has been booked in the company’s Metals June quarter orders received.

Metso Outotec’s scope of delivery consists of the engineering and key equipment supply for the lithium hydroxide process, the basis of which will be the Metso Outotec OKTOP® autoclave plant. The environmentally sound production process is one of Metso Outotec’s more than 100 Planet Positive products, the company said.

Pavel Galchenko, VP, Halmek Lithium, said: “One of the most important tasks in the project was the selection of technology. Instead of the more traditional sulphuric acid processing to produce lithium hydroxide, we decided to choose the Metso Outotec lithium hydroxide process as it is the most promising and environmentally-sound process at the moment.

“The pilot tests conducted at the Metso Outotec Research Center in Pori, Finland, provided excellent results.”

Mikko Rantaharju, Vice President, Hydrometallurgy business line at Metso Outotec, said: “Metso Outotec has developed lithium hard rock-related technologies for some 20 years now. It started with the battery-grade lithium carbonate process and, when the market changed to favour lithium hydroxide, the process flowsheet was converted to directly produce battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate from spodumene.

“Both of the processes are patented and will be significant assets in our battery chemicals business, meeting the need to produce high-end lithium-ion battery chemistries for the growing market.”

HALMEK LITHIUM’s new hydrometallurgical plant, which will complement its existing lithium hydroxide plant, is currently under construction. As raw material, the new plant will use spodumene concentrate; it will feature a capacity of 20,000 t/y of battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate, which is used in the production of batteries for electric vehicles. The first production line is planned to start up in 2023, and the second production line with a capacity of 20,000 t/y is expected to start production in 2026.

FLSmidth to provide process engineering input for Keliber’s lithium project

Keliber says it has appointed FLSmidth to provide process engineering services at its Päiväneva concentrator plant in Finland.

The two parties have reportedly agreed on the provision of process, layout and mechanical engineering services at the concentrator.

Hannu Hautala, CEO of Keliber, said: “We have chosen a partner with considerable experience in the mining industry, including lithium production. Our goal is to build a world-class plant that utilises the best available technology, which means safe, environmentally friendly and cost-optimised production.”

Mikko Keto, Mining President at FLSmidth, added: “We are delighted to receive this process engineering order from Keliber. It is a strong proof point of our know-how in the lithium arena, where we have been a leading provider of high-performing equipment, solutions and expertise for well over 20 years. We now look forward to this next step of designing an efficient, world class, concentrator flowsheet, in line with our MissionZero program.”

The award of the contract regarding the concentrator plant continues Keliber’s cooperation with FLSmidth, which will soon also see the completion of the basic engineering of high temperature conversion rotary kiln technology at Keliber’s chemical plant, located in Kokkola.

The concentrator will be built in the Päiväneva area of Finland, which is located on the border of the municipalities of Kaustinen and Kruunupyy, and within the immediate vicinity of Keliber’s lithium deposits. At the concentrator plant, ore will be processed into spodumene concentrate, which will then be transported to the chemical plant in Kokkola, where it will be further processed into lithium hydroxide.

Piedmont looks at IPCC, Metso Outotec alkaline pressure leach for lithium project

Piedmont Lithium’s plan to build out an integrated lithium hydroxide business from a base in North Carolina, USA, has advanced with the release of a scoping study that, it says, confirms that Carolina Lithium will be one of the world’s largest and lowest-cost producers of lithium hydroxide with a “superior” sustainability footprint.

Piedmont Carolina Lithium contemplates a single, integrated site, comprising quarrying, spodumene concentration, by-products processing, and spodumene conversion to lithium hydroxide at its site in Gaston County. There are currently no such integrated sites operating anywhere in the world, with the company saying the economic and environmental advantages of this strategy are compelling.

The latest study outlined a production target of around 4.96 Mt of 6% Li2O spodumene concentrate (SC6), averaging approximately 248,000 t/y of SC6 over the 20-year mine life. This equates to an average of 1.95 Mt/y of ore processed, totalling some 37.4 Mt of run-of-mine ore at an average grade of 1.09% Li2O (undiluted) over the 20-year mine life.

Of the total production target of 4.96 Mt of SC6, some 1.19 Mt will be sold to third parties during the operational life and approximately 3.77 Mt will be supplied to Piedmont’s chemical plant operations for conversion into lithium hydroxide. This results in a total production target of about 582,000 t of lithium hydroxide, averaging approximately 29,095 t/y of lithium hydroxide over 20 years, the company said. The study also assumes production targets of 4.83 Mt of quartz concentrate, 7.51 Mt of feldspar concentrate, and 1.34 Mt of mica concentrate over the life of operations.

Piedmont envisages a total initial capital cost of $838.6 million for the project and an after-tax net present value (8% discount) of $1.92 billion.

While still very much preliminary, the flowsheet and mining process for this planned operation is of interest to any lithium developer looking for a ‘sustainable’ mining footprint.

The company currently envisages using a Metso Outotec alkaline pressure leach process as part of its plan. This will reduce emissions, eliminate sulphuric acid roasting and reduce solid waste, it said.

At the same time, in-pit crushing and conveyor systems are on the agenda, eliminating mining trucks in the study to reduce fossil fuel consumption.

Piedmont has also been working with a solar developer to build and operate a solar farm on Piedmont property capable of producing electricity to supply up to 100% of Piedmont needs.

The company will also co-locate all operations on the same proposed site in Gaston County to minimise any transit and allow unused by-product streams to be repurposed for site redevelopment, it said. This adds up, Piedmont says, to highly efficient land and water use compared with South American lithium brine production.

Keith D Phillips, President and Chief Executive Officer of Piedmont, said: “We are exceedingly pleased with the results of our updated scoping study. The economics of our project continue to impress, but I am particularly proud of the project’s sustainability profile.

“As we move forward to complete a definitive feasibility study for Carolina Lithium later in 2021, Piedmont has engaged Evercore and JPMorgan as financial advisors to evaluate potential strategic partnering and financing options for its North Carolina project. Given the project’s unique position as the only American spodumene project, with world-class scale, economics, and sustainability, we expect strategic interest to be robust.

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.