AUSTRALIA-LISTED mining concern, Prospect Resources, says construction of the Arcadia lithium pilot plant is now 70 percent complete with the company expecting to start shipping high grade petalite to Europe by end of June.
The mining firm whose Arcadia project is situated a few kilometres East of Harare, produces lithium that goes into both technical (glass and ceramics) and chemical (vehicle and electronic batteries) manufacturing.
In a latest statement, Prospect said it remains on schedule to achieve the first shipment of high purity petalite by end of the second quarter.
“The company is pleased to advise that approximately 70 percent of the EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) scope for its high purity petalite pilot plant is complete.
“The company remains on schedule to achieve the first shipment of high purity petalite by end second quarter of 2021. Importantly, the pilot plant remains on schedule and on budget,” it said.
Recently, Prospect announced that it was developing a smaller commercial scale pilot plant for only one of two locally available lithium varieties as the route is a lower risk pathway to near term production.
On progress regarding the development of the Arcadia pilot plant, the firm’s managing director, Mr Sam Hosack, was quoted as saying:
“The company’s project team have now delivered approximately 70 percent of the works required to commence production at our pilot plant.
“It’s pleasing to report development of the pilot plant remains on time and on budget, with Prospect on target to shipping purity petalite by the end of June 2021.
Lithium mining was designated as an integral part of the Government’s US$12 billion mining industry target by year 2023 and is a strategic subsector expected to earn US$500 million annually.
Prospect has announced that it would be producing petalite, which is technical grade and spodumene, (chemical) grade lithium samples.
The company has decided to focus the pilot plant on producing only technical grade petalite samples using dense media separation (DMS).
The latest alternative is in accordance with Arcadia’s existing feasibility Study flowsheet rather than producing both petalite and spodumene samples using a flotation flow sheet.
The DMS feasibility study flowsheet has proved to have greater technical certainty than the flotation flowsheet.
Prospect has already signed offtake agreements with buyers in Europe and other markets for its lithium output but must submit samples to determine whether its produce meets technical specifications. To qualify petalite with potential customers the company must provide samples of up to 100 tonnes per customer.
It is hoped that the production and export of petalite produced by the pilot plant will test the readiness of the regulatory and fiscal regime (including the Special Economic Zone) that will apply to the commercial operation.
The operation of the pilot plant will allow for the accumulation of knowledge during design, mitigating the scaling issues that peer lithium producers have experienced on account of a too-rapid growth in supply.