LITHIUM PILOT PLANT PROCESSING
Lithium Pilot Plant Processing
ANZAPLAN uses its in-house technical centre and innovative machine manufacturer’s equipment for tailor-made process development and to provide samples for end-user approval. The ANZAPLAN bench scale and pilot plant processing facilities cover the full value chain of lithium minerals processing from the concentration of the lithium mineral to its conversion to, and refinement and precipitation of, lithium carbonate - including conventional and alternative processing routes.
Concentration of lithium minerals
Lithium mineral concentrates are produced for testing directly in ceramic or glass applications or as feed material for conversion to lithium chemi- cals. Special attention is also paid to potential by-products e.g. high puri- ty quartz or feldspar concentrates which may create additional revenue.
The ANZAPLAN technical centre is well equipped and experienced to test and evaluate conventional steps of lithium minerals concentration:
Comminution (Crushing and Grinding)
Besides the various conventional comminution technologies, selective fragmentation is available as an alternative to crushing and grinding techniques especially suitable for coarse grained lithium mineral-bearing pegmatites. The combination of this technology with optical sorting can now be tested at ANZAPLAN in comparison with conventional flow sheets, including a statistical evaluation of the liberation of lithium minerals by MLA.
Magnetic separation tests are performed by using wet or dry high gradient magnetic separators. For some pegmatites, tantalum may be concentrated in the magnetic fraction. In conventional processing flow sheets, lithium minerals are further concentrated by flotation e.g. with fatty acids.
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Conversion of lithium minerals to carbonate
Different processing routes for the conversion of lithium minerals to carbonate may be performed at ANZAPLAN. Hydrometallurgical test work includes leaching and purification to high grade lithium carbonate. Special attention is paid to the specific by-products which may be created during leaching and purification.
Static and rotary furnaces at ANZAPLAN’s technical centre are used to test the calcination properties of spodumene ore and to optimise the temperature for the conversion of alpha to beta spodumene.
Besides acid treatment, alternative leaching routes of beta spodumene are able to be tested including pressure leaching which is required if the sodium carbonate route is chosen. Once an optimised route for the specific material is chosen the leaching process can be scaled up to allow the hydrometallurgical purification steps to be performed, e.g. separation of leached material and precipitation of interfering chemical elements.
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