ESIA Karibib Operations
Karibib is fully permitted for the re-development of two low strip ratio open pit mines, feeding lithium mica ore to a central mineral concentrator that employs conventional flotation technology. The associated modest footprint maximises the use of disturbed ground from historical operations.
Mining Licence (ML) 204 has a granted Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC) issued by the Environmental Commissioner in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism for a period of three years, valid to September 2020. The renewal process commenced in March 2020. A new ESIA and Environmental & Social Management Plan (ESMP) for the planned Namibian operations were completed in early July 2020 and submitted along with the ECC renewal application.
The ESIA and ESMP were completed by Risk-Based Solutions CC, a leading Namibian environmental consultancy and authored by Dr Sindila Mwiya, who has undertaken more than 200 environmental projects for Namibian, Continental African and International based clients. The ESIA and ESMP are in compliance to the provisions of Namibian mining and environmental legislation and according to Equator Principles and IFC Performance Standards on Social and Environmental Sustainability.
Of note, Risk-Based Solutions designated the Project as Category B2: “Business activities with potential limited adverse environmental or social risks and/or impacts that are few in number, generally site-specific, largely reversible, and readily addressed through mitigation measures.”
Furthermore, the ESIA found that, “the proposed Karibib Project development in the ML 204 poses localised negative impacts to the receiving environment with greater off set/trade-offs/benefits in the form of socioeconomic and environmental reclamation of the currently abandoned mine sites. The extent of the proposed mining and minerals processing and ongoing exploration operations are limited in area extent with respect to the ore body, the Rubicon and Helikon 1 pits and supporting infrastructures areas.”
ESIA Abu Dhabi Operations
The P1P chemical plant development has been registered with the Environmental Authority of Abu Dhabi, which advised that a Preliminary Environmental Review (PER) is required for permitting rather than a more comprehensive EIA. The Preliminary Environmental Review (PER) for the Phase 1 Chemical Plant site within the Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (KIZAD) has been approved by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) – and an environmental approval to construct the chemical plant has been received. A Musataha Agreement with Abu Dhabi Ports (ADP) is under review, which entitles its holder to construct a building or to invest in, mortgage, lease, sell, or purchase a plot of land belonging to a third party for a period of up to 50 years.
Residue Re-use Opportunities
Lepidico continues to pursue the opportunity for the Phase 1 chemical plant to be a zero-waste facility. The plant will produce two residue streams after impurity treatment, referred to as the Impurity Removal and Aluminium Removal streams. The total tonnage is approximately 120,000tpa (dry basis) produced as a filter cake with a free moisture of 25-30%. These streams contain approximately 60% gypsum: the remaining being alunite and other stable metal hydroxides. Characterisation work completed during the DFS indicates the material is benign and is suitable for remediation of land fill sites and other affected land forms such as tailings dams and as a building material.
A residue usage assessment specific to the UAE was undertaken for the Phase 1 DFS. This work identified that the gypsum residue could be used in the manufacture
of cement as a retarding agent. Typically, 5% gypsum is added to cement clinker, sourced from synthetic gypsum (from flue gas desulphurisation) or natural rock gypsum in the case of the UAE. The majority of the gypsum used in the UAE for this application is natural rock gypsum imported from southern Oman.
The remaining residue will be disposed of through the Abu Dhabi Waste Management Centre (Tadweer) which will manage the recycling of the material through its construction products recycling stream and/or its fertiliser factory stream.
Carbon Emissions: Current & Future
At its pre-development stage of evolution Lepidico’s carbon emissions are largely associated with air travel and exploration activities, predominantly drilling. The international business footprints necessitates air travel, however, efforts are made to minimise this by employing audio-visual conferencing where possible. In fiscal 2020 Lepidico generated an estimated 501 tonnes of CO2 compared with 285 tonnes and 234 tonnes in the previous two years respectively.
Being a purely hydrometallurgical process, L-Max® is much less power intensive than conventional chemical conversion of spodumene, allowing the integrated P1P to have a relatively modest carbon intensity versus the industry. A Scope 1 and 2 estimate3 indicated Phase 1 with a carbon intensity in the range of 5-7t CO2/t lithium hydroxide monohydrate after credits from amorphous silica and gypsum. No allocation or allowance was made for other by-products, which would have the effect of reducing the intensity. A Scope 3 Project emissions assessment is planned once upstream supply and downstream o take are finalised and associated emissions are understood.
Water intensity for the integrated Project is estimated to be modest by industry standards at approximately 50L/kg during the first five years of production, rising to 60L/kg thereafter following a mill expansion in Namibia.
A permit for the annual abstraction of up to approximately 210,000m3 of groundwater from four boreholes within
the Company’s licence area was granted in 2017. Water intensity for the Namibian operation during the first five years of production is estimated to be 15L/kg of lithium hydroxide, rising to 25L/kg following the planned concentrator expansion. Water consumption intensity for the Abu Dhabi chemical plant is expected to average 35L/kg of lithium hydroxide over the project life.
Land Use Intensity
The aggregate project footprint in Namibia and Abu Dhabi combined is relatively modest and largely on designated industrial land. The brown field development in Namibia has a footprint of approximately 800 hectares that maximises the use of non-remediated ground disturbed
by the historical operations. The formal mine closure plan will address rehabilitation of historically impacted areas. The chemical plant in Abu Dhabi will be located on a 5.7 hectare plot within the KIZAD industrial park.
Ore Concentrator Waste Minimisation
The Karibib Project concentrator tailings will be a benign mix of predominantly feldspar and quartz with some residual mica, which will be filtered to recycle water and co-disposed with mine waste rock, thereby eliminating the requirement for a dedicated tailings storage facility.
Social, Community & Stakeholder Consultation
Lepidico conducted a Socio-Economic Baseline Study in March 2020, focused on the relevant communities in the broader Karibib region. This revealed three broad categories to prioritise support for the local communities:
- Projects/investments with high employment creation potential – to be aligned to the relatively abundant and diverse local labour force.
- Well-equipped vocational centres for tailor-made training/skills enhancement, targeting unemployed youth and women.
- Diversification and value addition initiatives for food security enhancement and poverty alleviation, targeting vulnerable groups and farmers.
Based on several stakeholders’ meetings and the socio- economic baseline assessments in the area, Lepidico has identified five key objectives where it can add the greatest value in its support of local communities.
- Taking a systemic and strategic approach towards sustainability to do no harm and stop making tomorrow’s legacies today.
- Improved local governance to effectively deliver basic services and development.
- Infrastructure Development.
- Local Economic Development for Business and Job Creation.
- Education Development.
These objectives will be achieved through both shorter- term components of work, which are planned to start in 2021 (COVID-19 dependent) and longer-term components that involve greater stakeholder participation and consultation in their scoping and implementation.
In 2020, Lepidico further developed its operating management systems. Internal goals focus on governance, occupational health and safety, the environment and meeting project milestones. Both the exploration and project development groups report against these indicators and a summary is tabulated below.
The executive management team regularly engage with the investment community in Australia and in other major financial centres globally. There is ongoing dialogue with shareholders, brokers, financial analysts, prospective institutional investors, family offices, private equity
and sovereign wealth funds and prospective strategic investors around the world. We believe that Lepidico has international investment appeal. The Company is committed to enhancing its investment appeal by delivering on its stated strategy from its platform on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).
Lepidico has established a suite of Corporate Governance documents and Charters to meet ASX standard disclosure requirements, which are available at the Company’s website.
Lepidico currently holds International Patent Application PCT/AU2015/000608 and a granted Australian Innovation Patent (2016101526) in relation to the L-Max® Process. During the 2020 year the Company received notification of the grant of the Australian, Japanese and US patents, and confirmation of the decision to grant the European patent in relation to the Company’s 100% owned L-Max® process technology.
National and regional phase patent applications are well advanced in other key jurisdictions. Patent application processes also continue to advance for Lepidico’s other proprietary processes including the production of caesium, rubidium and potassium brines and LOH-Max®, for the production of lithium hydroxide monohydrate from a lithium sulphate intermediate, without the generation of by-product sodium sulphate.
Pending IRMA Member
Lepidico is a pending member with IRMA as a non-producer signatory. To view more information on IRMA click here