Lithium extraction technology company Lilac Solutions says it has produced 2500kg of lithium carbonate equivalents (LCEs) via its proprietary ion exchange pilot plant in Argentina’s Catamarca Province, a “critical milestone” at a project aiming to be the first commercial lithium brine venture without evaporation ponds.
“Today’s announcement marks a new era in scalable lithium production,” Lilac CEO Dave Snydacker said.
“Lithium is a cornerstone of the energy transition but limitations in production technology have led to increased costs, scarcity, and extreme price volatility.
“We’ve proven that it is possible to produce high-purity lithium faster and without evaporation ponds, all while protecting surrounding communities and ecosystems.”
With the milestone, Lilac has increased its stake in the Kachi project owned by ASX-listed Lake Resources from 10% to 20%.
Lake Resources’ share price has surged about 20% in the past week to A54c, capitalising the company at circa-$775 million. The price is still down nearly 30% in 2023.
California-based Lilac said the Kachi milestone built on more than 200,000 hours of operations at mini-pilot and pilot scale in North America. It said the 2500kg of LCEs extracted at an 80% lithium recovery rate from Kachi brine containing 200-300mg per litre of lithium was about double standard brine lithium recoveries.
Commissioning of the pilot plant in under a month was “10-times faster than conventional processes” and used a circa-1000-times smaller land footprint than pond production and 10-times less water than aluminium-based absorbents. Lilac said 90% plant uptime was logged during the trial.
“This is a reliable automated plant designed for scalable manufacturing and operations,” the company said.
“The lithium chloride Lilac produces is low in impurities, enabling efficient production of high-purity lithium carbonate for battery manufacturers. Rejection of boron, a troublesome impurity for brine projects, is greater than 99.9%.
“An independent engineer visited the plant and analysed more than one hundred samples from across the plant to validate performance and confirm consistency with engineering work.”
Lake is aiming to present results of a definitive feasibility study on planned production of 50,000 tonnes per annum of lithium carbonate at Kachi by the middle of this year.