Galan Lithium Ltd (ASX:GLN) has started a preliminary investigation into ion exchange technologies for processing lithium brines from its Candelas Lithium Brine Project in Argentina’s Catamarca province.
The investigation comes after a six-month technical review into alternative processing technologies, with results of both to be fed into a pre-feasibility study for the project’s potential development.
Galan managing director JP Vargas de la Vega said the preliminary examination into processing technologies was an important step before beginning the PFS.
He said: “The heavy brines extracted from Candelas are exceptionally high purity and we believe that investigating lower-cost processing technologies can further leverage the unique nature of our deposit.
“Each of the technologies identified by the company have the potential to significantly reduce the costs of extracting lithium from brines.”
Due to the lead time associated with conducting due diligence into the suitability of ion exchange technologies, Galan has chosen to conduct the investigation in parallel to other exploration and operational activities currently underway.
Galan will also investigate a more conventional processing route using evaporation, selective precipitation, purification and precipitation as lithium carbonate.
Results from the processing test work will be utilised in the PFS, which is planned to begin after the release of the maiden JORC-compliant resource estimate for the northern portion of Candelas, expected in the third quarter of 2019.
The company has initiated discussions with technology providers capable of provider ion exchange recovery from lithium brines, with two providers selected to conduct benchtop test work.
Another provider will be receiving samples later due to logistical difficulties and the company is continuing discussions with other providers.
Precipitation technologies for the extraction of lithium salts for further processing is also being assessed through an Australian tech provider.
Galan has examined different options to improve the recoveries and economics of lithium production from brines, basing test work on several factors for potential implementation into the processing flow sheet.
Ion exchange is a low-cost and high flow-rate processing step widely used in water treatment and was chosen as the first technology to be assessed due to the lead time required to test the technology.
Several tech providers have demonstrated high recovery of lithium from brine into a clean and concentrated solution.
Clean solution substantially reduces further processing costs and high recoveries are generated from a wide range of feed solution strengths.