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Pilbara gives $104.9 million lithium demonstration plant the green light

Manufacturing News

Environmental technology company Calix and lithium miner Pilbara Minerals have announced a final investment decision to build a $104.9 million demonstration plant for processing a lithium-enriched product from a low-grade spodumene, able to produce over 3,000 tonnes per annum of lithium phosphate.

The two ASX-listed companies announced a joint venture for the Pilgangoora Project in November last year, with “significant progress” reported last month on activities including detailed front engineering and design (FEED.)  

The pair aim to complete detailed engineering in the March quarter of 2024 and produce their first lithium salt in the June quarter of 2025.

Pilgangoora is 55 per cent owned by Pilbara and 45 per cent by Calix, and uses Calix’s flash calcination technology, which can be operated using renewable energy.

Dale Henderson, Pilbara Minerals’ Managing Director and CEO, said in a statement on Wednesday that, “Following further studies and pilot test work, we are delighted to be taking the next step  in our mid-stream strategy with the construction and operation of a Mid-Stream Demonstration Plant with our JV partner Calix.”

“Together with Pilbara Minerals, we look forward to demonstrating the potential of our  electric calcination technology to dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of Australian  lithium,” added Phil Hodgson, managing Director of Calix. 

“The success of the joint venture will also showcase the opportunity of combining  Australian mineral and renewable energy resources with innovative Australian technology  to enable the reliable and sustainable supply of value-added critical minerals to the  world.” 

The project will be funded by a $67.4 million investment from Pilbara, which will manage construction and operation, $17.5 million from Calix, and a $20 million grant from the federal government’s Modern Manufacturing Initiative.

A joint statement by the two companies describes the key objectives as including:

  • Validation of Calix’s electric flash calciner in converting spodumene concentrate;
  • Validating calcination of lower grade fine spodumene concentrate, “which could  potentially lead to improved overall lithia recoveries in the spodumene concentrator plant”;
  • Validating the potential to use electric flash calcination to reduce CO2 equivalent emissions intensity in spodumene calcination by over 80 per cent versus fossil fuel-fired rotary kilns;
  • Generating supporting data to confirm lower capital and operating costs over  conventional calcining;
  • Demonstrating production of lithium-rich mid-stream product on-site, reducing transport of waste;
  • Enhance Pilbara Minerals’ operational learnings in chemical processing; and
  • Produce enough Mid-Stream Product to test market pricing.

Picture: supplied

Further reading

Calix and Pilbara Minerals advance lithium processing technologies

Calix and Pilbara Minerals to trial lithium processing technology

Calix and Pilbara Minerals to form lithium JV




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