High purity alumina (HPA) stock FYI Resources (ASX: FYI) is taking its pilot processing plant for a week-long test drive.

It marks the next crucial step in the project’s development.

FYI first commissioned the pilot plant — a smaller version of the real thing –back in February using $1.1m of funds in advance from its annual R&D tax rebate.

FYI will run the plant continuously for 24 hours a day over the next seven days. The company hopes to demonstrate “end-to-end” processing of HPA, with an expected output of 1kg per hour.

FYI shares ticked higher in morning trade, but the stock has struggled for traction so far in 2019:

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The pilot plant forms part of FYI’s broader commercial strategy. It will use production  to establish a customer-base and bring in potential off-take partners for its Cadoux Kaolin HPA project in WA.

Demand for HPA — which is now viewed as a key component in the manufacture of LED lighting and lithium batteries — is expected to grow significantly in the years ahead.

READ: FYI gets a handy cash advance to build a high purity alumina pilot plant

The pilot plant was built this year in conjunction with two engineering partners, and will deploy a “3-stage hydrochloric acid leach and precipitation circuit”, the company said.

“We have great confidence that the trial outcomes will validate our pre-feasibility study results, and provide excellent data for inputs into our definitive feasibility study that is currently being compiled,” FYI managing director Roland Hill said.

The resulting product will be checked for quality control before being forwarded to prospective customer groups.

READ: FYI’s Roly Hill on HPA demand, disruption, and an industry leading project

In other ASX tech metals news today:

Mineral Resources Limited (ASX: MIN) calls it quits at McIntosh. The company said it’s withdrawing from the joint-venture graphite project with Hexagon Resources (ASX: HXG), because the economics don’t stack up. Full ownership of the joint tenements will now be returned to Hexagon.

And battery materials developer Australian Mines (ASX:AUZ) has announced it will embark on another 10,000m of extensional drilling at its cobalt-nickel-scandium project in Flemington, NSW. The company is targeting a high-grade cobalt zone, after previous drilling in the area resulted in a “tripling of the cobalt mineralisation footprint”. Shares in AUZ were up four per cent at 2.5 cents.