Quality lithium carbonate gives ioneer’s Rhyolite Ridge the competitive edge
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Special Report: Lithium carbonate produced at ioneer’s Rhyolite Ridge pilot plant has been found to meet or exceed the requirements of potential customers.
Not all lithium is equal, lithium earmarked for conversion into lithium hydroxide or for use in speciality glasses and ceramic frits (a type of ceramic glass) requires exceptionally low levels of impurities.
With this in mind ioneer (ASX:INR) can push ahead with its definitive feasibility study (DFS) for its Rhyolite Ridge project in Nevada with a spring in its step after analyses from SGS Canada confirmed that lithium carbonate produced at the pilot plant had low levels of key impurities that are in line with or less than amounts accepted by customers.
Unlike lithium carbonate produced from brines, the analyses found that Rhyolite Ridge lithium carbonate is very low in chloride, potassium and sodium.
Additionally, the sulphate content resulting from the use of sulphuric acid in the production process does not present any issues, particularly when converting it to lithium hydroxide.
“These independent results confirm and improve on our earlier results. The low levels of critical impurities in lithium carbonate produced at our pilot plant ensure that our product will be highly sought after by a wide range of customers,” managing director Bernard Rowe said.
“Optimisation of our DFS flowsheet is proceeding well and further pilot plant testwork is on-track to be completed by the end of November. This will provide the required data for the engineering design of the processing plant and enable completion of the DFS in Q1 2020.”
The additional test work is also expected to result in straightforward modifications to the DFS flowsheet that will enhance and optimise the commercial process.
Rhyolite Ridge is a large, shallow lithium-boron deposit that is envisaged to produce 20,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate and 173,000 tonnes of boric acid per annum at full capacity from a resource containing 12.4 million tonnes of boric acid and 1.3 million tonnes of lithium carbonate.
ioneer has flagged that both the lithium and boron production are of equal importance in terms of revenue from the project, which is just one of two known large lithium-boron deposits globally.
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