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Flotation testwork almost doubles ultra-low iron petalite recovery – Prospect Resources

By Business Reporter – Tuesday 3 August 2020

HARARE (Mining Index) – PROSPECT Resources Ltd (ASX: PSC, FRA:5E8) has revealed that petalite flotation is expected to significantly increase Arcadia’s life of mine ultra-low iron petalite lithium recovery by over 94 percent compared to November 2019 Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS).

The December 2019 DFS estimated a project NPV10 of US$710 million, utilising petalite recovery of 31 percent.

The locked cycle flotation testwork indicates significant potential to increase petalite recovery from 31 percent to 60 percent, across all Arcadia Project ore bodies contained within the reserve.

Following the release of the Arcadia DFS in November 2019, Prospect has focussed on improving petalite recovery to meet demand from premium glass ceramic consumers.

“With this substantial increase in petalite recovery, further work will now be undertaken to understand the full economic benefits resulting from this increase in recovery, particularly the increase in revenues from additional sales of premium priced ultra-low iron petalite,” said Prospect Resources in a statement.

The petalite flotation testwork delivered a product specification superior to that achieved from Dense Media Separation (DMS).

The DMS component of the metallurgical test programme was carried out by PESCO, an independent specialist company in South Africa and the subsequent petalite flotation was carried out by Dorfner Anzaplan (Anzaplan), an advanced processing specialist organisation based in Germany.

The results of the DMS testwork, together with the results of locked cycle petalite flotation indicate the potential for an overall petalite recovery increase for Arcadia Project from 31 percent to 60 percent, across all of Arcadia’s ore bodies.

The DMS testwork followed a split DMS concept in which a coarse fraction and a fines fraction were treated using a two-stage DMS.

The two-stage DMS test work results confirmed the amenability of Arcadia ore to the production of premium ultra-low iron petalite concentrate product containing 4.3% Li2O and 0.02% Fe2O3. All the DMS tailings (both coarse and fines) and crusher undersize were proportionally combined and delivered to Anzaplan for locked cycle flotation.

The Main Pegmatite ore generated a combined petalite recovery from DMS and flotation testwork of 77%.

Individual Flotation tests were able to achieve a higher lithia content of 4.5% Li2O whilst also containing a lower iron oxide or Fe2O3 level of 0.02%.

“The higher lithia and ultra-low iron oxide content of the petalite flotation product further increases the ease of use for glass and ceramics customers and achieves a lithia to iron ratio sought by the clear glass market,” revealed the lithium giant.

Prospect’s Managing Director, Sam Hosack, said the “test work program suggests improved economic potential of using flotation to produce a petalite concentrate. With Prospect’s ability to nearly double its petalite recovery, our operating cost per tonne of petalite and spodumene is expected to drop. Further work is required to quantify this saving. If we apply the expected tantalum credit and the premium priced petalite credit against the cost of spodumene production, then we can confidently aim to be the lowest cost spodumene producer in the world.”

“The results from the testwork demonstrate the strength of the Arcadia Lithium Mine in being able to produce three products:

  1. 6% Li2O low iron spodumene;
  2. >4.3% Li2O ultra-low iron petalite; and
  3. Tantalum concentrate.

We believe that Arcadia is unique in having the only JORC compliant lithium pegmatite in the world able to produce these three products. The team will now focus on understanding the increase in economics; subsequent increase in revenue, upgrade to the ore reserve, and a potential increase in our mine life.”

Petalite is a preferred input material for ceramics and black glass ceramics due to its zero-thermal expansion, allowing glass to expand and contract without the crystalline structure failing.

The potential exists for Prospect to be the first petalite producer and lithium mineral producer more broadly, to sell into the clear glass market that has traditionally been supplied by lithium carbonate due to the stringent lithia to iron ratio thresholds.

The premium pricing in the clear glass market is expected to be greater than the ceramics and black glass ceramic markets (already a premium priced product over battery grade spodumene) due to the higher lithia content, therefore potentially increasing the operating margins for the Arcadia Lithium Project. ENDS// www.miningindex.co.zw

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