LIT grabs grant from WA government – eyes processing hubs

Published at Aug 16, 2016, in Mining

Lithium Australia (ASX:LIT) has received state cash to explore its Sileach lithium processing technology – the first step on LIT’s plan to establish hubs on three continents.

The ASX-listed company told its shareholders today that it had received just under $196,000 from the Minerals Research Institute of WA to explore using its Sileach technology to process lithium.

The cash will go towards a project it holds in joint venture with fellow ASX-listed company Venus Metals (ASX:VMC) – which will test the commercial viability of VMC’s lithium in the Pilgangoora region of the Pilbara.

The pair will test the processing of VMC’s lithium, firstly at lab scale out of Murdoch University in Perth and then on a pilot plant scale.

The WA government funding will go towards the lab testing.

Should the testing come off on both the lab and pilot scale, LIT says it has longer-term ambitions to establish “a number of processing hubs” with locations to be targeted at lithium resource bases in Europe, Australia, and North America.

This is still an early stage with these targets, so don’t base your investment decision on this fact alone and seek professional financial advice.

LIT has been busy not just on the processing front, but in taking upstream positions – most notably in Australia but also as part of the Electra project in Mexico.

If LIT is able to become a downstream player and combine this with a strong upstream presence, it will be hoping to take advantage of both scale and vertical integration down the line to produce a lithium product near or on par with lithium brine deposits.

How Sileach works

The Sileach process has the potential to release the value from stranded lithium silicate deposits – those deposits quarantined by sub-economic grades. It can then transform low-grade spodumene occurrences into viable ore as, due to lower projected operating costs, it is less sensitive to feed grade.

The result of this is lower cut-off grades for resource calculations, expansion of existing resources without the requirement for further drilling, and greater recovery of metal inventories.

As the lithium is precipitated from solution in the Sileach process, all impurities in lithium silicate feed can be rejected during the production of lithium chemicals.

Spodumene, and other silicates, in which impurity concentrations would otherwise render them unmarketable, can now be considered viable process feed.

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