Lepidico to acquire Bright Minz, LOH-Max process technology
Mining News Pro - Lepidico has entered into an agreement with the shareholders of Bright Minz to acquire all of the issued share capital of Bright Minz.

Bright Minz is the holder of the LOH-Max process technology, which was developed for the production of high-purity lithium hydroxide monohydrate from a lithium sulphate intermediate.

The consideration for the acquisition will consist of a trailing royalty in relation to any third-party LOH-Max licences entered into by the Lepidico group following settlement of the acquisition to the current shareholders of Bright Minz and a cash payment of $10 000.

The Lepidico group will retain the right to use LOH-Max royalty free.

“Acquiring LOH-Max brings all the process technologies employed by the Phase 1 project under the Lepidico umbrella, thereby streamlining the process for any future third-party licences," comments Lepidico MD Joe Walsh.

Lepidico is developing the Karibib Phase 1 project, in Namibia. It entails the redevelopment of the openpit mines at Rubicon and Helikon 1, the development of a new mineral concentrator and a chemical plant.

"Strategic Metallurgy has further quantified the considerable potential benefits that LOH-Max offers for spodumene conversion versus conventional process technology, which includes material reduction in capital and operating costs, improved lithium recovery and reduced carbon footprint," says Walsh.

Strategic Metallurgy has completed a desktop evaluation of LOH-Max, benchmarked against third-party feasibility study level data for conventional production of lithium hydroxide monohydrate from a lithium sulphate intermediate, sourced from a 6.0% lithium oxide (Li2O) spodumene concentrate. This evaluation, coupled with results from further LOH-Max testwork for the Phase 1 project by Strategic Metallurgy supports a substantial $52-million capital cost saving estimate for a production rate of 20 000 t/y of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE), largely as a result of the elimination of the energy intensive sodium sulphate circuit. This compares with previous advice of $10-million per 5 000 t/y of LCE, equivalent to $40-million per 20 000 t/a LCE, Lepidico explains.

By not producing sodium sulphate, LOH-Max also eliminates the risk of either attempting to sell or even dispose of sodium sulphate, the market for which is globally mature, the company adds.

Lepidico notes that Strategic Metallurgy has also advised that LOH-Max may also deliver an estimated 4% increase in the recovery of lithium from concentrate to final product versus conventional spodumene processing, with an overall recovery estimate of 91% versus 87% respectively, equivalent to about an extra 1 000 t/y of lithium hydroxide production for a nominal 20 000 t/y converter.

It adds that LOH-Max operating costs benefit from lower energy consumption and lower reagent costs versus conventional conversion.

The net benefit calculated showed an estimated reduction in absolute operating cost of $8-million a year based on the third-party feasibility study data for a 20 000 t/y spodumene converter and a greater reduction in unit operating costs per tonne of product of about 8% owing to the increased metal recovery.

Furthermore, the lower energy consumption also leads to a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions when LOH-Max is employed, which, when combined with the increased lithium hydroxide output, is expected to result in a meaningful reduction in carbon intensity. Opportunities to further reduce carbon intensity have been identified but require additional work to quantify, says Lepidico.

Walsh notes that further LOH-Max improvements for mica processing have also been identified that will benefit the Phase 1 project, which is on track for a final investment decision in the June 2021 quarter.

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