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New lithium extraction process would eliminate sulphuric acid


March 26, 2018  


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A new method of lithium hard rock processing is creating a stir, with the promise of being faster, more economical, and removing the need for sulphuric acid.

Power Metals Corp will be sending a 10 kg spodumene (hard rock) sample of mineralized material from the company’s Case Lake lithium project in Ontario to Orion Laboratories of Rockford, Tennessee, and together with Light Metals International Inc. will jointly develop and commercialize a new method of extraction of lithium compounds from spodumene.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the Case Lake property and for lithium hard rock processing methodology,” said Julie Selway, Ph.D., P.Geo. “The advantages of this methodology are that it is potentially faster and cheaper and eliminates the use of sulfuric acid. I look forward to collaborating with such an experienced metallurgist as Dr. James Blencoe and seeing his results.”

LMI has developed a patent-pending method to rapidly manufacture lithium carbonate (Li2CO3) and/or lithium hydroxide (LiOH) from a variety of spodumene-rich (LiAlSi2O6) concentrates. The technology is modular and highly scalable, thereby enabling a small “factory footprint,” and holds the potential to decrease overall hard-rock lithium production costs.

Power Metals Corp has a 20 per cent working interest partner MGX Minerals Inc., a company that has a history of acquiring and developing mineral processing technology. To date, MGX has focused on lithium brine technology, however this exciting new acquisition now gives them exposure to hard rock processing.

Unique features of the technology include:

• Only three feedstock materials are required: (i) a spodumene concentrate, to produce high-purity Li2CO3 and/or high-purity LiOH; (ii) high-purity CO2, which is consumed in forming Li2CO3; and (iii) high-purity H2O, which is consumed in forming LiOH;

• Creates three potentially saleable high-purity products: Li2CO3 and/or LiOH, aluminum hydroxide, Al(OH)3, and amorphous silica, SiO2;

• Eliminates use of conventional sulfuric acid leaching; and

• Modular capabilities allow for scalable and remote deployment.

The spodumene samples of mineralized material will consist of samples from the drill programs both at the Main Dyke zone and the recently drilled Northeast Dyke located 900 metres from the main zone. These samples will be used to perform initial bench scale laboratory testing.

(Power Metals Corp.)