Lepidico Ltd (ASX:LPD) has successfully produced high specification lithium carbonate of 99.9% purity produced in its ongoing L-Max Pilot Plant campaign.
The companies Managing Director, Joe Walsh, said this compares with a nominal battery grade reference purity of 99.5% for many existing producers.
Importantly, impurity levels of most deleterious elements for battery grade specifications were below detection limits.
Mr Walsh said elevated calcium levels are believed to be associated with contamination in reagents used during the final precipitation stages for this campaign, as calcium levels in the L-Max generated lithium sulphate feed was <10 ppm Ca. Test assays for all reagents are in progress and test work is planned to further improve lithium chemical purity.
He said work to convert the back end of the Pilot Plant to LOH-Max capability for the production of lithium hydroxide has commenced, with all major mechanical equipment is already on site.
Reagents of the requisite quality have been successfully trialled and are now being sourced and Mr Walsh said that asuming the reagents can be delivered in October the first LOH-Max batch trial is scheduled for November 2019.
Lepidico believes its L-Max Process has the potential to complement the lithium market by adding low-cost lithium carbonate supply from alternative sources. More recently Lepidico has added LOH- Max to its technology base, which produces lithium hydroxide from lithium sulphate without by-product sodium sulphate.
The company is currently conducting a Feasibility Study for a 5,000 tonne per annum (LCE) capacity Phase 1 lithium chemical plant, targeting commercial production for 2021. Work is currently being undertaken to evaluate the incorporation of LOH-Max into the Phase 1 Plant Project flow sheet.
Feed to the Phase 1 Plant is planned to be sourced from the Karibib Lithium Project in Namibia, 80% owned by Lepidico where a Mineral Resource of 8.8 Mt grading 0.56% Li2O and 59ppm Ta2O5 is estimated and/or the Alvarrões Lepidolite Mine in Portugal under an ore access agreement with owner- operator Grupo Mota.