Lithium extraction process in the works

MGX Minerals, together with Orion Laboratories and Light Metals International, will develop and commercialise a new process for extracting hard-rock lithium from spodumene concentrate
Lithium extraction process in the works Lithium extraction process in the works Lithium extraction process in the works Lithium extraction process in the works Lithium extraction process in the works

Staff reporter

PRESS RELEASE: Light Metals International (LMI) has developed a thermochemical technology to rapidly manufacture lithium carbonate (Li2CO3) and/or lithium hydroxide (LiOH) from a variety of spodumene (LiAlSi2O6-rich) concentrates. The method is modular and highly scalable, thereby enabling a small ‘factory footprint’, and holds the potential to significantly decrease overall hard-rock lithium production costs. 

Unique features of the technology include:

  • Only three feedstock materials are required: a spodumene concentrate, to produce high-purity Li2CO3 and/or high-purity LiOH; high-purity CO2, which is consumed in forming Li2CO3; and 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.
  • Modular capabilities allow for scalable and remote deployment.

Orion and LMI are led by James G. Blencoe, who has more than 40 years of experience designing, constructing, operating and maintaining specialised equipment for advanced chemical production.

MGX and joint-venture partner Power Metals have agreed to provide Dr Blencoe with a 10kg sample of spodumene-rich rock originating from the Case Lake lithium project in Ontario, Canada, which will be used to perform initial bench-scale laboratory testing.

“The success of our Case Lake, Ontario, joint venture has led us to review new metallurgical methods that have the potential to significantly reduce the costs and equipment required for extraction of the principle spodumene elements lithium, aluminium and silicon (the latter in the form of silica),” said MGX president and CEO Jared Lazerson. “We believe Dr. Blencoe has a firm understanding of the thermochemical requirements to achieve such a goal.”