Larger volume high purity lithium carbonate samples
Samples will arrive in California in 2 weeks for processing in the pilot plant modules being constructed using Lilac Solutions' direct extraction ion exchange process. The samples have been transported from Kachi and are now en-route to California (see Figs 1,2,3*).
Deliveries to downstream groups will occur from March and the larger volumes of lithium carbonate will start the qualification process with off takers and demonstrate the scalability for future production planning.
Lake's Managing Director Steve Promnitz said: "We are now focused on delivering greater volumes of battery grade lithium carbonate from Kachi brines and the pilot plant modules and this will form the basis for securing binding offtake agreements for the Kachi brine products.
"Lake has undertaken a considerable amount of business development in the past 24 months to build visibility in the battery and EV sectors. During this time, we have presented our projects and future product to a large number of industry players, which include highly recognized global brands. This work has been considerable and will pay dividends in 2020 as we can now quickly and readily re-engage with off-takers and start the qualification process with lithium carbonate samples of sufficient volume with very low impurities - the critical benchmark in this sector.
"We look forward to reporting back to shareholders when our brines arrive at Lilac's California operations."
Lake aims to produce at Kachi a high quality, low impurity product capable of attracting premium pricing. Lab testing has shown that lithium concentrations of 30-60,000 mg/L lithium can be produced from brines of ~300 mg/L lithium in a few hours using the Lilac process.
The Kachi Project ranks amongst the world's top 10 lithium brine resources, with a maiden resource estimate of 4.4 million tonnes lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) (Indicated 1.0 Mt and Inferred 3.4 Mt) within a much larger exploration target (refer ASX announcement 27 November 2018).
A Phase 1 Engineering Study completed in December 2018 showed its potential to have production costs in the lowest cost quartile globally, with high recoveries (80 to 90%) compared to conventional brine operations in South America with typical lithium recoveries below 50%. The Lilac technology could also potentially slash production times to a few hours compared to the lengthy nine to 24-month waiting period for standard evaporation processes to produce a suitable concentrate for processing.
Significantly, Lilac's direct extraction process offers a sustainable solution for Lake Resources when extracting lithium from brine as processed brine is returned to the aquifer once the lithium has been extracted removing the need for traditional evaporation ponds. This addresses increasing interest from electric vehicle makers (OEM's) and battery makers to demonstrate they have access to a sustainable scalable supply chain for raw materials.
*To view tables and figures, please visit:
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