Frontier Lithium starts lithium mini-pilot plant in Ontario

Figure 1: Commissioning of pilot rotary kiln for pyrometallurgical processing

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Frontier Lithium Inc. [FL-TSXV; LITOF-OTC] has begun mini-pilot plant operations with XPS Expert Process Solutions, a Glencore company, at its research and development centre in Falconbridge, Ontario, and at other off-site locations.

The goal of the pilot is to directly produce lithium hydroxide from the PAK lithium project resource. The PAK Project contains Ontario’s highest-grade and largest lithium resource and is located in an emerging premium lithium mineral district in the Great Lakes region of Northern Ontario.

In 2020, Frontier Lithium awarded XPS the contract to jointly construct and operate the pilot at its Falconbridge facility. Sample preparation and concentrate production have been completed. Pyrometallurgical processing has commenced. Final hydrometallurgical circuit construction and commissioning are currently taking place.

The mini-pilot is configured to produce high-quality, lithium-bearing pregnant leach solution that is suitable for continuous crystallization by a reputable off-site third party, with the objective of demonstrating the production of high-purity, battery-quality lithium hydroxide monohydrate from a steady-state process.

This pilot project is being undertaken to alleviate financial and technical risks associated with scaling up the company’s innovative, patent-pending lithium extraction process, which is under an international Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) filing. The pilot aims to generate high-purity, battery-grade lithium hydroxide chemical, which will be used as marketing samples of the product and will also provide essential data required for a future prefeasibility study to be conducted by the company. The final crystallization work is expected to be completed in the spring of 2021.

Trevor Walker, President and CEO, said: “We are excited by our progress with XPS on the mini-pilot plant. Last year’s preliminary test results showed the lithium extraction technology to be viable at bench scale. The initial commissioning of the pilot represents a significant milestone and marks the culmination of extensive research and development into a flowsheet that could process spodumene concentrates directly to lithium hydroxide chemicals without employing a lithium carbonate intermediate.”

Frontier Lithium is a Sudbury-based  junior mining company with the largest land position in an emerging premium lithium mineral district located in the Great Lakes region of Northern Ontario and holds a 100% interest in the PAK lithium project, which contains one of North America’s highest-grade, large-tonnage hard-rock lithium resources in the form of a rare low-iron spodumene.

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