Matsa Resources has signed a deal with Chinese lithium carbonate processor Yongxing Special Materials Technology Co. to supply four 20kg samples of lepidolite and other lithium ores from its Thailand projects for test work.

The common misconception that lepidolite is difficult or too expensive to process is false, with four producers in Jiangxi province, China – including Yongxing – producing battery grade lithium carbonate exclusively from lepidolite.

And their lithium carbonate end product from lepidolite is comparable to lithium carbonate produced from spodumene at comparable cost.

Yongxing who will treat the samples in their processing facilities to confirm:

  1. The ability to process the ore from Matsa’s lithium projects using the Yongxing processing plant;
  2. The recovery grade of the lithium ore; and
  3. The potential for beneficiation to produce a concentrate in any future development scenario.

High grade ore close to China

Yongxing are upgrading the processing facilities to lift output to above 30ktpa of lithium carbonate, which will require a feed rate of 3.6Mtpa of lepidolite ore.

Matsa Resources (ASX:MAT) executive chairman Paul Poli said they have stated that the company’s lepidolite ore would be highly desirable due to the indicative higher grade and close proximity to China.

“I want to raise an important note here regarding Matsa’s Thailand lithium micas, both lepidolite and polylithionite can be and are being processed using existing technology to extract the lithium.

“China has been mining lepidolite for many years in Jiangxi province. In fact, Jiangxi is so significant that the province is called ‘the lithium capital of Asia’.

“There are four processing facilities who solely rely on lepidolite ore.

“Kanchanaburi micas appear to be typically 3 to 4 percent lithium (up to 8% Li2O), so we are confident that a commercial grade concentrate from these lithium micas is possible.”

Onsite beneficiation potential

Matsa expects the processing results may provide direction for potential onsite beneficiation of any future mining operations.

As is stands, Matsa believes the grade and grainsize of the lepidolite found at both Phang Nga and Kanchanaburi is more than capable of producing a DSO (direct shipment ore) given the grades (LIBS and conventional laboratory assays) seen to date.

Whilst some test work would be needed, research has demonstrated that lepidolite should be amenable to electrostatic separation to beneficiate the lithium mica pegmatite rocks.

Current carbonate production costs from lepidolite are around RMB35,000/t, which is competitive with the average cost producing lithium carbonate from spodumene.

Poli also noted that the Thai media have stated that the Thai government is embarking on developing a lithium processing facility near Bangkok.

“With this in mind, I am highly encouraged on the potential for mining and processing these types of minerals should we define a resource in the not-too-distant future,” he said.




This article was developed in collaboration with Matsa Resources Limited, 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.