A pilot project to directly produce lithium hydroxide from a Canadian resource has been started by Frontier Lithium with XPS Expert Process Solutions a subsidiary of Glencore.
The mini-pilot plant will be at the Canadian firm’s research and development centre in Falconbridge, Ontario and at other off-site locations.
Sample preparation and concentrate production has been completed, pyrometallurgical processing has begun and final hydrometallurgical circuit construction and commissioning is taking place.
The pilot aims to generate high-purity battery grade lithium hydroxide chemical, which will be used as marketing samples of the product and provide data for a future pre-feasibility study to be conducted by the company.
The final crystallization work is expected to be completed in the spring of 2021.
The goal is to produce lithium-ion battery materials from the PAK Lithium Project, which contains Ontario’s highest grade and largest lithium resource located in an emerging premium lithium mineral district in the Great Lakes region of the northern province.
Frontier Lithium awarded XPS the contract to jointly construct and operate the pilot facility last year.
This pilot project is being undertaken to alleviate financial and technical risks associated with scaling-up of its patent pending lithium extraction process, which is under an International Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) filing.
Trevor Walker, president and CEO said: “Last year’s preliminary test results showed the lithium extraction technology to be viable at bench-scale.
“The initial commissioning of the pilot represents a significant milestone and marks the culmination of extensive research and development into a flowsheet that could process spodumene concentrates directly to lithium hydroxide chemicals without employing a lithium carbonate intermediate.”
Image: Commissioning of pilot rotary kiln for pyrometallurgical processing