AFRICAN lithium developer, Prospect Resources (Prospect) has secured long lead equipment items, giving it a leeway to commence the pilot plant project at its Arcadia Lithium Mine (Arcadia) to produce high-purity petalite and spodumene samples.

BY MTHANDAZO NYONI

In a statement yesterday, the Australia Stock Exchange-listed firm said the plant would initially produce bulk samples of 500 tonnes of petalite and 120t of spodumene concentrates for customer qualification.

It will also de-risk the flotation process by operating the optimised flowsheet; supply bulk samples of high purity products to customers in the technical and chemical markets and obtain product qualification and maximise market demand for Arcadia’s products.

The plant will supply samples to Uranium One Group for their product validation purposes and their continuing due diligence on Prospect and the Arcadia Lithium Mine.

Prospect managing director Sam Hosack said their key focus was to operate a pilot plant to replicate the Arcadia flowsheet to produce high purity petalite and spodumene.

“The pilot plant delivers a number of key objectives for customers, project finance parties and investors in de-risking the Arcadia project. It is a major milestone that we have secured the long-lead purchases,” he said.

“Prospect has unique geology at Arcadia allowing for production of high purity products that attract premium pricing from both the technical and chemical market. The flotation process, together with the Arcadia project, offers an attractive solution for customers seeking long term, high quality and consistent supply,” he added.

Hosack said the samples would be used for qualification processes with current customers, adding that they would approach additional customers and grow market demand for Arcadia’s high purity products.

The company said the design of the pilot plant was based on flotation test work done by a firm called Anzaplan and scaled up to a pilot plant size by the Beijing General Research Institute of Mining and Metallurgy using proven flotation technology solutions.

It said front-end engineering and design (FEED) will be undertaken using information gathered from the pilot plant.

This will determine the phasing, scale of growth and nominal capacity of the Arcadia project. The strategy for the phasing of development will be clarified with the capital expenditure estimates from FEED.

“The main risk to achieving this schedule is the delivery of the long lead items that drive the critical path and are able to delay the commissioning. The key long lead items are the flotation cells, which have now been secured by (a) leading flotation cell supplier, mitigating that risk,” Prospect said.

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