Lithium Australia NL (ASX:LIT) has commenced pilot testing of its 100% owned lithium extraction process, Sileach™, at the ANSTO Minerals facility in New South Wales.
The first test will consist of a 24 hour commissioning run of the circuit.
The results will then be examined prior to commencing continuous operations in about two weeks.
Pilot testing will lead to a decision being made to proceed with construction of a larger-scale pilot plant, for which Port Hedland is currently the preferred location.
Lithium Australia recently won its second grant, this time from the federal government to support the commercialisation of its Sileach™ process.
Pilot plant feed
The feed material for the first pilot plant test run will be a lithium silicate called trilithionite, sourced from the Lepidolite Hill project in Western Australia.
Lithium Australia NL has a 40% interest in Lepidolite Hill alongside Cazaly Resources Ltd (ASX:CAZ) owning 40% and Focus Minerals (ASX:FML) owning 20%.
Pilbara Minerals Limited (ASX:PLS) has supplied spodumene concentrates for further continuous
The supply of spodumene concentrate is part of an agreement with Pilbara Minerals.
Subject to the success of pilot testing of concentrates, the parties have agreed to establish the Sileach Joint Venture (SJV) with the aim of developing a commercial Sileach™ processing plant.
Definitive feasibility study
Data generated from operating the large-scale pilot plant will be used for feasibility investigations into the construction of a full-scale commercial Sileach™ processing plant.
In the event of a positive outcome of the definitive feasibility study, the SJV will advance to commercial production, including finance and construction, on a 50/50 basis.
The study is due for completion in Q4, 2016 which will lead to deciding whether to proceed to a continuous, site-based pilot plant in Q1, 2017.
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