Lithium mineral concentrates consumed, e.g. in the glass industry or as a pre-product for the production of lithium carbonate, are traded at lithium contents of 5.00wt% or 7.25wt% Li2O depending upon the application. For regular ore deposits with head feed concentrations of 10-20% spodumene (8.0% Li2O) concentration factors of four to eight are required.

During conventional processing, crushing and grinding (comminution) is the first stage in the concentration process in order to liberate the lithium minerals from the rock matrix and to allow their separation and concentration in sequential downstream processes such as froth flotation or gravity separation. Pegmatite, the coarsely crystalline igneous host rock for spodumene and petalite, is hard and abrasive. As a consequence, comminution is energy intensive and accounts for up to 50% of the processing cost.

The concentration process yields a finely crystalline lithium mineral concentrate and a by-product mixture of fine minerals which is difficult to market and of low value. Potentially valuable minerals in the by-product mix are mostly not separated or recovered in the conventional processing concept.  Consequently, the lithium mineral concentrate bears all the production cost.

In order to utilise the full value of the lithium-bearing pegmatite, new concepts for the concentration of lithium minerals have been developed by ANZAPLAN. For further information on lithium processing, please follow the links below.

Alternative Lithium Minerals Processing Concepts
From Lithium Minerals to Lithium Chemicals
Download: White Papers on "Alternative Lithium Minerals Processing
Concepts and Conversion of Spodumene to Lithium Chemicals