Tag Archives: spodumene

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.

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.