The pilot project, located at the miner's research and development centre in Falconbridge, Ontario, was specifically developed to produce from the resource of the PAK lithium project, which has the province's largest and highest-grade resource.
The plant is configured to produce a high-quality lithium-bearing pregnant leach solution (PLS) that can be continuously crystallised by a third party for use in creating a high-purity battery quality lithium hydroxide monohydrate.
Glencore subsidiary XPS was awarded the contract last year to jointly construct the facility. Falcon said to date, it has completed sample preparation and concentrate production as well as pyrometallurgical processing.
At present, the project's final hydrometallurgical circuit is being constructed and commissioned. The final crystallisation work is expected to be completed this spring.
"The initial commissioning of the pilot represents a significant milestone and marks the culmination of extensive research and development into a flowsheet that could process spodumene concentrates directly to lithium hydroxide chemicals without employing a lithium carbonate intermediate," president and CEO Trevor Walker said.
In related news, Frontier said it is hoping to release its initial results from a preliminary economic assessment study next month regarding a fully integrated project producing lithium hydroxide from the PAK lithium project.