LithiumPower International Limited (ASX: LPI) (“LPI” or “the Company”) is pleased to advisethat the first lithium carbonate sample has been produced from Maricunga brine forthe Maricunga Joint Venture company (MSB) using the optimised process being developedby experienced process company GEA of Germany.
“Minera Salar Blanco(MSB) has produced its first lithium carbonate sample from Salar de Maricungabrine at GEA facilities in Germany. The brine was concentrated at the pilotplant solar evaporation ponds at the Maricunga site for almost 12 months, andsubsequently treated at the GEA lab in Duisburg, Germany, to purify it and precipitatelithium carbonate suitable for battery gradespecification similar to those produced in Chile by Albemarle and SQM. Theprocess route is based on conventional technology and comes with the know howto be able to scale up to commercial production. The purity of the product isabove 99.4%.”
“We are very pleased with thisnews, as it’s a major milestone on our route to become one of a select fewlithium carbonate producers, and demonstrates the value of our project. Now we are able to produce a valueadded, refined product, which we believe meets cathode manufacturers’ rigorousmaterial specifications. Our environmentalimpact study is nearing completion and we look forward to updating shareholderswith additional development advances regarding this significant lithiumprojectover the coming months.”
About the GEA company
GEAis a major global process engineering company with headquarters in Düsseldorf, Germanywhich employs 17,000 people globally and specializes in design and productionof equipment for the chemical, pharma, environmental and food industries. GEAhas been operating a pilot plant in their facilities for the Maricunga JV since3Q17, when they began working to optimise the lithium carbonate extraction process.This work will be ongoing during the Definitive Feasibility Study that thejoint venture is undertaking during 2018. Optimisation of the lithiumextraction and potassium production aims to establish the lowest cost for the process,with the highest possible lithium recovery.
The companyis still waiting for the final results for chloride, sulfate, insolublematerial and loss of ignition (LOI). Optimization for lower impurities such as calciumwill continue, a process, which is considered to be easily achievable.
Environmental impact assessment progress
Inparallel with the Definitive Feasibility Study and optimisation of the processthe Maricunga JV is advancing with the project environmental impact assessment,to complete this and submit it to government agencies during 1Q18. The studyincludes quarterly monitoring of flora, fauna, air, soil and water, in additionto detailed non-seasonal assessments of other aspects of the project. Work isbeing undertaken by Tier-1 environmental consultancy MWH, who have extensiveexperience with projects in Region III of Chile, where the project is located.
Maricunga JV Background
The Maricunga JV is50%-owned by LPI. The project is regarded as one of the highest qualitypre-production lithium brine project globally, with a very high grade andstrong flow rates. The company released a Preliminary Economic Assessment for theproject on the 4 January 2018, which confirmed strong economic returns forproduction of 20,000t/a of lithium carbonate (LCE), with production of74,000t/a of potassium chloride (KCl) from year 3 of the project operations.