Production is underway at the Lepidolite Hill lithium deposit in Western Australia, owned by Cobre and partner Focus Minerals within the Coolgardie Rare Metals joint venture.
Cobre said the mini-processing plant had so far produced steady-state lithium carbonate, with continuous testing and a subsequent commercial product evaluation next on the agenda to prove the process and complete the commercialisation process.
“The 10-day test will not only provide lithium carbonate for distribution to potential end-users but will also provide valuable process information for the design of larger plants,” Cobre Montana managing director Adrian Griffin said.
“The current program is a critical step towards commercialising disruptive technology for the production of lithium chemicals.
“A successful test run will demonstrate the ability to process the most common lithium minerals, the micas, on a continuous basis.”
Cobre’s Perth-based partner Strategic Metallurgy is supervising the mini-processing test. Upon completion, the lithium carbonate will be sent to end-users for evaluation and independent endorsement for commercialisation.
Cobre will also use its mini-processing plant for test production of mica-based lithium carbonate from European Metals’ Cinovec deposit – one of the world’s largest hard-rock lithium occurrences – in the Czech Republic on a 50-50 JV basis. The resulting lithium carbonate will similarly be used for market evaluation.
Elsewhere, Cobre also has strategic alliances with Pilbara Minerals, Focus minerals and Tungsten Mining NL to investigate lithium and rare metals in prospective locations of WA close to well-developed infrastructure. The company also has lithium exploration assets in the state near Greenbushes and Ravensthorpe.
Cobre Montana will change its name to Lithium Australia subject to shareholder approval scheduled for July 15.