Partners with Lilac Solutions to Advance Kachi Project
- Partnership to advance a rapid, low cost method for direct extraction of lithium from brines at the Kachi Project
- Process aims to reduce the lead time to production, reduce operating costs and significantly increase recoveries to above 95% in less than 2 hours, rather than 9-24 months of evaporation in conventional methods
- Lake has reviewed a number of technologies and believes Lilac has an innovative method based on conventional ion exchange extractive techniques common in the industry. This new method will be trialed together with conventional methods
- The new process appears more environmentally sustainable than traditional methods, is easily scalable to increase production and has a smaller footprint
- LKE expects an initial resource at Kachi Project to be released in the next 8 weeks followed by a pre-feasibility study and strategic investment discussions
The companies have entered into a partnership to leverage Lilac's proprietary ion exchange technology (the "Lilac Technology") for the Kachi brine with the goal of establishing a rapid, robust, and low-cost process for producing lithium at Kachi. Lilac is initiating engineering work to confirm low operating costs for direct production of lithium carbonate or lithium chloride at Kachi using the Lilac Technology.
The Kachi Lithium Brine Project covers 54,000 hectares (133,000 acres) over almost an entire lithium-bearing salt lake in Catamarca province, approximately 100 km (60 miles) south of FMC's Hombre Muerto Lithium brine production operation. FMC Corp has been operating its lithium business in Argentina for over 20 years.
Lilac Solutions is transforming lithium production with its innovative ion exchange technology for extraction of lithium from brine resources. Lilac deploys unique ion exchange media and related processes to extract lithium from a wide variety of brine resources with high recoveries, minimal costs, and rapid processing times. Benchtop testing of other brines has indicated recoveries over 95% in less than 2 hours versus 9-24 months in evaporation ponds. This approach eliminates the need for evaporation ponds, which are expensive to build, slow to ramp up, and vulnerable to weather fluctuations.
A significant environmental benefit comes from the removal of evaporation ponds as the footprint of the operation is significantly reduced. Further, the method allows for the remaining brine to be re-injected into the same aquifer from where it is sourced, without significantly adjusting the water quality, thereby preserving an aqueous resource in an arid environment.
Lilac's technology can economically access brines with low lithium concentrations and high concentrations of other salts, such as magnesium. Cost advantages come from reduced time, higher recoveries and a simplified extraction flowsheet with fewer reagents. The technology is modular to suit various project sizes and integrates with conventional plant designs for production of battery-grade lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide. The technology has been successfully tested with real brine samples across the Americas.
Lake and Lilac believe that combining Lake's scale and project experience with Lilac's technology and process expertise will unlock the Kachi resource, enabling a rapid path to commercial production of lithium.
"Lake Resources is delighted to be partnering with Lilac on a rapid, direct extraction process of lithium from brines. We have reviewed a number of technologies, and we consider Lilac to offer a compelling opportunity to be reviewed in tandem with conventional methods as part of a pre-feasibility study that we will commence soon after the release of our initial resource," said Steve Promnitz, Managing Director of Lake Resources.
"The potential to reduce the timeline to production at low cost is a major advantage in the current market with a constrained supply of lithium. Increased recoveries indicate that a 300 mg/L lithium brine would produce similar volumes of final product as a 600 mg/L lithium brine."
"Lake has potentially a very large resource at Kachi and this is a unique and compelling opportunity for us," said David Snydacker, CEO of Lilac Solutions. "Our team is confident that we can quickly adapt our system to the Kachi brine and establish a flowsheet with low operating costs. This engineering work is a significant first step in a swift process of bringing the Kachi project online and establishing a long-term, fruitful partnership with Lake Resources."
About Lilac Solutions
Lilac Solutions is a mining technology company based in Oakland, California. Lilac offers a full-service ion exchange technology for lithium extraction from brine resources that is cheap, fast, effective, and environmentally friendly, and that is adaptable to a wide variety of brine chemistries.
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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