PepinNini Minerals Ltd (ASX:PNN) has received very encouraging interim results from the lithium brine blending study underway in Chile, using brine from the company’s leases on the Rincon and Incahuasi salares in Argentina.
The study, which commenced in May 2021, uses 2,000 litres of brine collected from each salar that is transported to testing facilities in Chile and allowed to evaporate and concentrate.
Three testing regimes are being applied in the study:
- Test 1 – Blended brines
- Test 2 – Incahuasi brine
- Test 3 – Rincon brine
After eight weeks of testing, a lithium ion concentration of 8,500 mg/kg was recorded for the blended brine, a level 14 times that of Incahuasi brine and seven times that of Rincon brine. Companies such as Orecobre at its Olaroz project(100km north) concentrate to 7,000 mg/kg or greater.
While the testing has another month to complete, the preliminary results suggest that the process is viable and highly effective. Importantly it is industry best practice to conduct brine blending studies in order to evaluate and optimise future lithium chemical production.
Study methodology Brine for the study was collected from trenches on Salar de Incahuasi and pumped from monitoring wells on Salar del Rincon.
The relative density of each brine sample was recorded and the 4,000 litres of brine was transported in sealed containers to testing facilities in Chile where the brine was poured into testing ponds lined with plastic liners in an environment similar to that of the project area in Argentina: ie elevation around 4,000 metres above sea level, low rainfall, average temperature of 15oC and high evaporation rate.
Upon confirmation that the brine blending process is viable and results in a high-grade lithium product which could produce high purity battery grade lithium carbonate. PepinNini will collect data on the lithium yield from the process.
Next stages in the company’s development of the salar assets include:
- Drilling of four boreholes including a pumping well on Incahuasi Salar to augment the LCE (lithium carbonate equivalent) resource stated for Salar del Rincon (ASX announcement 27 June 2018).
- Conduct a pre-feasibility study for both Rincon and Incahuasi, including the design of a processing plant.