Key metrics are as follows:

  • Development work for the 15kilogram per hour throughput L-Max® Pilot Plant commenced in October 2018
  • The pilot facility is being constructed in Perth, Western Australia by Strategic Metallurgy Pty Ltd
  • Plant commissioning is on schedule to commence in April 2019 with production the following month
  • Pilot Plant operations will provide significant quantities of materials to further develop the quality and value of the L-Max®product suite, and allow prospective offtake/finance parties to conduct comprehensive due diligence

Wherever practicable, processing equipment and the materials of construction have been selected to best reflect those intended for use in the Phase 1 Plant, albeit at reduced scale.

The pilot plant capital cost is estimated to be A$3 million with a further A$1.5 million required for operation. The aggregate amount of A$4.5 million is fully funded and falls within the cap (of approximately A$9 million) placed on expenditures eligible for a research and development tax offset in Australia.

Concentrate feed for the pilot plant is being sourced from the Alvarrões Lepidolite Mine in Portugal and one other deposit.  The lepidolite from Alvarrões was shipped in January 2019 and arrived in Perth in late February 2019 for processing.

Figure 2. Crushed Alvarrões run of mine lepidolite feed

Figure 3. Marine vessel transporting the lepidolite sample from Alvarrões to Perth for processing

The pilot plant will provide material for further L-Max® product development work, in particular for: amorphous silica, SOP fertilser, caesium brine and the evaluation of plant residue as an environmental remediation product. The considerable quantities of materials generated will enable further development work to enhance the quality and value of each product, and potentially allow new products to be identified. The lithium chemical produced from the pilot plant is planned to be used to provide samples for testing by prospective customers. The pilot plant will also generate data for optimisation of Phase 1 Plant operating parameters.

Pilot plant commissioning is scheduled to coincide with completion of the Phase 1 Plant feasibility study, thereby allowing prospective offtake/finance partners the opportunity to conduct comprehensive due diligence from May 2019.