• Detailed evaporation and Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) testwork underway at flagship 3.3Mt LCE Solaroz project in Argentina’s Lithium Triangle
  • Conventional evaporation and DLE provide alternative potential production pathways for the project
  • Lithium Energy shares the lithium rights in the Olaroz Salar basin with lithium carbonate producers Allkem and Lithium Argentina


Detailed test work is underway at Lithium Energy’s flagship Solaroz lithium brine project to determine the optimal process conditions required to extract lithium and produce battery-grade lithium carbonate.

Lithium Energy’s (ASX:LEL) Solaroz project is in the heart of Argentina’s portion of the ‘Lithium Triangle’ within the Olaroz Salar basin.

Here it rubs shoulders with majors, including $7.9bn market cap Allkem’s (ASX:AKE) Olaroz joint venture with Toyota Tsusho Corporation and Lithium Americas’ Olaroz-Cauchari JV with Ganfeng Lithium.

Exploration and early development stage Solaroz boasts a 3.3Mt LCE maiden resource and has already garnered the attention of multiple, major third parties in the electric vehicle space interested in strategic partnership or investment opportunities.


Evaporation test work underway

To underpin the next phase of feasibility studies, Lithium Energy is examining two processing options: conventional evaporation, a traditional, well-understood process used by its neighbouring producers in the Olaroz Salar Allkem and Lithium Americas; and Direct Lithium Extraction, a promising technology which could potentially be developed quicker and cheaper.

LEL has contracted Norlab S.R.L — one of South America’s leading experts in lithium brine evaporation — to conduct evaporation test work on representative samples of lithium rich brines from Solaroz.

The objective is to determine the optimal process conditions required to extract lithium and produce battery grade lithium carbonate from the lithium rich brines at Solaroz. The test work includes  various activities such as verifying the ion balance of brine, detailing the salt precipitation conditions for each stage of the evaporation process, and defining the percentage of solids separated will be conducted.

To support the laboratory evaporation and salt precipitation test work, test ponds have been installed on site to validate the local environmental and site evaporation conditions in a pond simulation environment.

The real time evaporation rates determined from these ponds will underpin the evaporation pond designs.

Brine and precipitated salt analysis results will contribute to the process design data that will be established during the laboratory pilot test work conducted by Norlab.


DLE pilot scale test work

But as well as assessing conventional evaporation pond technology, LEL is also looking into the applicability of Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technology, primarily through an agreement with Xi’an Lanshen New Material Technology Co..

Lanshen have agreed to construct a battery grade lithium plant at Solaroz, capable of producing 3,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate per annum.

Preliminary bench scale lithium resin extraction, undertaken by Lanshen on lithium rich brines from Solaroz, has provided Lithium Energy with the confidence in the Lanshen DLE technology to proceed to laboratory pilot scale test work.

This test work will be undertaken by Lanshen in their laboratory facilities in Santiago, Chile using a ~2,000 litre representative sample of brine from Solaroz and will form the basis of determining preliminary engineering design data and for supporting future site-based pilot plant operations.



This article was developed in collaboration with Lithium Energy, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.


This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.