Lilac Pilot Plant Commissioning Completed Using Kachi Brines
Processing is underway of the 20,000 litres of brine at Lilac's newly upgraded industrial facility in California, USA. Initial samples of lithium chloride, which is the targeted product from the direct extraction process, will be analyzed next week, which will then be converted to lithium carbonate. Additional lithium chloride will be produced from a second shipment of 20,000 litres of Kachi brine, once that arrives.
Lake's recent Kachi Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS) (refer ASX announcement 30 April 2020) and recently published research (available on the company's website) demonstrated the disruptive, cost competitive, sustainable and scalable nature of the Lilac process which will be employed at Kachi and its ability to produce a premium, battery-grade product sought by battery and cathode manufacturers globally.
Recent announcements from Europe have pointed to the full-scale electric vehicle revolution currently underway and the need for up to 60 times more lithium by 2050 for Europe alone, according to the EU Market Commissioner. China, the world's largest EV market, has extended EV subsidies, while North America's clean energy industry continues to pick up speed.
Lake's Managing Director, Steve Promnitz said: "The processing of the Kachi brines is a key milestone for both Lake and Lilac, as they are a central plank in establishing Kachi as a low-cost, large scale lithium project that can meet both the supply and product quality requirements of large off-takers.
"While lithium demand forecasts continue to be revised upwards, the supply response is falling further behind, particularly the lack of battery-grade product. Put simply, this is an industry that desperately needs high-quality supply and it simply isn't being produced in sufficient quantities to meet future demand numbers.
"We look forward to demonstrating unequivocally that we can produce large volumes of high purity lithium carbonate samples and deliver them to industry buyers that are eagerly awaiting our results."
Lilac's CEO, Dave Snydacker said: "Lilac's engineering team has commissioned a custom pilot module for the Kachi brine and is achieving excellent results. Scale-up has gone smoothly thanks to the robust design of the Lilac modules, which are manufactured in California and can be easily shipped and installed on-site to avoid the multi-year commissioning process that we've seen with evaporation pond-based lithium projects in Argentina.
We are excited to advance the work at Kachi with on-site pilot operations."
About Lake Resources NL
Lake Resources NL (ASX:LKE) is a lithium exploration and development company focused on developing its three lithium brine projects and hard rock project in Argentina, all owned 100%. The leases are in a prime location among the lithium sector's largest players within the Lithium Triangle, where half of the world's lithium is produced. Lake holds one of the largest lithium tenement packages in Argentina (~200,000Ha) secured in 2016 prior to a significant 'rush' by major companies. The large holdings provide the potential to provide consistent security of supply demanded by battery makers and electric vehicle manufacturers.
The Kachi project covers 69,000 ha over a salt lake south of FMC's lithium operation and near Albemarle's Antofalla project in Catamarca Province. Drilling at Kachi has confirmed a large lithium brine bearing basin over 20km long, 15km wide and 400m to 800m deep. Drilling over Kachi (currently 16 drill holes, 3100m) has produced a maiden indicated and inferred resource of 4.4 Mt LCE (Indicated 1.0Mt and Inferred 3.4Mt) within a 8-17 Mt LCE exploration target (refer ASX announcement 27 November 2018).
A direct extraction technique is being tested in partnership with Lilac Solutions, which has shown 80-90% recoveries and lithium brine concentrations in excess of 3000 mg/L lithium and is planned to be trialled on site in tandem with conventional methods as part of a PFS to follow the resource statement. Scope exists to unlock considerable value through partnerships and corporate deals in the near term.
The Olaroz-Cauchari and Paso brine projects are located adjacent to major world class brine projects either in production or being developed in the highly prospective Jujuy Province. The Olaroz-Cauchari project is located in the same basin as Orocobre's Olaroz lithium production and adjoins Ganfeng Lithium/Lithium Americas Cauchari project, with high grade lithium (600 mg/L) with high flow rates drilled immediately across the lease boundary.
Two drill rigs are currently drilling at Cauchari with results anticipated to extend the proven resources in adjoining properties into LKE's area with results anticipated from November into December 2018. This will be followed by drilling extensions to the Olaroz area in LKE's 100% owned Olaroz leases.
Significant corporate transactions continue in adjacent leases with development of Ganfeng Lithium/Lithium Americas Cauchari project with Ganfeng announcing a US$237 million for 37% of the Cauchari project previously held by SQM. Nearby projects of Lithium X were acquired via a takeover offer of C$265 million completed March 2018. The northern half of Galaxy's Sal de Vida resource was purchased for US$280 million by POSCO in June 2018. These transactions imply an acquisition cost of US$55-110 million per 1 million tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) in resources.
The demand for lithium continues to be strong for lithium ion batteries in electric vehicles, according to recent data from the leading independent battery minerals consultant, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. Supply continues to be constrained suggesting good opportunities for upstream lithium companies.
Lake Resources NL