Lithium South Development Corp. [LIS-TSXV; NRGMF-OTC; OGPG-FSE] completed laboratory-scale evaluation using synthetic brine modelled on the Hombre Muerto North lithium project chemical composition. Test work was completed by Chengdu Chemphys Chemical Industry utilizing its proprietary XFP-Lithium direct lithium extraction process, which selectively extracts lithium ions from brine.
Testing was performed at the Chemphys ISO certified facility in Chengdu, China. Independent check sampling was completed at the PONY Testing International Group Co. Ltd. All work was completed under the supervision of Don Hains of Hains Technology Associates of Toronto, Canada, who is acting as the qualified person.
Process conditions were screened to select optimized parameters, (including operating at 25˚). Average lithium recovery achieved was 80%, producing an intermediate lithium sulphate product enriched from 0.7 grams/litre Li to 1.7 g/L Li. This represents a near 100% increase in lithium extraction, in comparison with the conventional evaporation process results completed by the company.
The lab test work shows good selectivity of the adsorption process, high Li adsorption, elution and total recovery rate, and low adsorbent loss rate. Chemphys also determined the intermediate lithium sulphate produced met the feedstock quality requirements to directly produce battery-grade lithium carbonate.
Conventional lithium extraction involves construction of large evaporation ponds to concentrate the lithium contained in the raw brine. The costs of pond construction is significant, the environmental footprint is large and the production lead time is about 18 months. These factors contribute to the challenges of applying traditional evaporation process to meet increasing market demand.
The Chemphys process is part of an innovative class of lithium extraction technologies, direct lithium extraction. The XFP-Lithium process allows for faster and more efficient extraction of lithium from brine with significantly reduced evaporation pond footprint. The company is evaluating both conventional evaporation and DLE to determine the optimal process method for the HMN Li project.
The next phase of test work will involve pilot plant cycle testing using synthetic brine and validation using a large bulk sample of HMN Li project brine. The bulk brine sample acquisition will be conducted next week, with the sample expected in China by March. The pilot program will further validate the process conditions established by the lab test work on a larger scale, continuous cycle program and also produce high-quality lithium carbonate samples. The pilot testing is expected to be completed in Q2 2021.
The Hombre Muerto North Lithium Project is on the Hombre Muerto salar, the premier lithium-producing salar in Argentina.