Lithium Processing Technology Update
Montreal, July 19, 2020 - TheNewswire - St-Georges Eco-Mining Corp. (CSE: SX) (OTC: SXOOF) (FSE: 85G1) is pleased to provide additional information regarding the contracted pilot plant facilities of Carrefour innovation sur les materiaux de la MRC des Sources or "CIMMS" initially disclosed in a press release on July 10, 2020. The Company is also providing an update on its research and development process that is now fully reactivated following a slower development period in the last quarter.
The pilot plant operations
The pilot plant being contracted is a "state of the art" newly-built facility owned and operated by CIMMS.
The agreement has an 18-month duration and can be extended. It marks the beginning of a new phase of testing in the development of the Company's lithium processing technology.
CIMMS-contracted infrastructures and resources allow St-Georges Metallurgy to scale up instantly without the lag time usually experienced when research teams integrate new members and train on new equipment. CIMMS also contributes immediately to the Company's bank of resources and expertise by making available experienced and highly respected lithium metallurgy researchers. The CIMMS-led team consists of:
Yu-Mei Han, Ph.D. Metallurgy, who is the technical director and was the process engineer during the start up of the Quebec lithium mine. She is very experienced in lithium pilot plant design and conception.
Denys Pinard, Chemist with nearly 40 years' experience in hydrometallurgy. Denys was the 4th person hired by Quebec Lithium, where he participated in the start up of their commercial plant. His expertise revolves around lithium extraction processes, spodumene decrepitation, sulfidation, lixiviation, purification, and carbonation.
Jonathan Viens, Operation supervisor of the CIMMS, Jonathan has experience in characterization and optimization of spodumene acidulation processes. He has worked on the realization of different projects, specifically on optimizing lithium recovery.
Sylvain Couture, Eng. Director of CIMMS, Sylvain accumulates decades of experience in industrial equipment conception. Over the years, he contributed to various R&D initiatives focusing on industrial reject alternative usage and was involved in the start up of various industrial plants.
Enrico Di Cesare, St-Georges Metallurgy's President, commented: "(...)With the extent of the partners and the laboratories we now have integrated with our research initiatives, we have the flexibility and scalability to fulfill all our research needs (...) the infrastructure and experience that is available and the elimination of team integration and equipment learning curves should reduce the lag time between design and conception and real-life industrial testing significantly. (...) The current approach allows development and innovation in parallel or allows multiple technical teams to work in conjunction to achieve innovation or solutions as required. (...) The elimination of fixed costs, building and commissioning, and the level of control we now have on our development and testing costs allow us to take chances on concepts that would have been put aside before. We will continue to focus on Key Performance Indicators but have some flexibility to try outside the box thinking and more freedom to innovate (...)"
For pictures and description of the CIMMS facilities, please scroll down to the end of this press release
Lithium Processing Technology Advancements
Shareholders and stakeholders alike should remember that the Company was able to concentrate mechanically the lithium found in the clay in the material obtained from Nevada Lithium projects. Air classification resulted in the elimination of 55% of the gangue material with no lithium loss resulting in an increase of approximately 2.2 times the lithium content in the resulting material (See Press Release "Independent Review of Phase One Lithium in Clay R&D Completed", July 24, 2019).
Additional concentration with Nitric and Citric acid allowed for the elimination of up to 96% of the material without loss of lithium. The resulting 4% having 99.9% of the lithium still present in the solution and being equivalent to a 25-fold increase of lithium concentration in the resulting solution.
Fig. 1 St-Georges' Hydrometallurgical Lithium Extraction Process Phases
Larger scale tests now take in account the moisture content of the material, often up to 17% moisture, that the clay sediment carries and which results in almost the same percentage of acid loss that cannot be recycled in the process and also, currently, of some lithium loss up to the same 17% when the leach solution is filtered.
A conceptual scenario using 44 tonnes of feeding material from a blend of lithium-in-clay type projects would result in 24 tonnes being discarded and 20 tonnes being sent to an acid bath of 180 tonnes of a proprietary mix of acid dominated by nitric acid.
In the tests conducted during Phase I and previously disclosed, the Company metallurgists were able to leach within less than an hour, over 99.9% of the lithium into solution, at atmospheric pressure and ambient temperature.
However, the lithium needs to be recuperated, and the Phase I report initially underlined a significant challenge for the process at the time. Fine materials like clays can retain much of the acid and lithium in filter cake losses. That can represent retention of humidity that is higher than other concentrates, up to 17% compared to a maximum of up to 8% in traditional lithium concentrates obtained from spodumene hosted in hard rock material. The Company's R&D efforts are now focused on further concentration and the reduction of acid losses in the residues.
This phenomenon seems to be universal to all lithium-in-clay projects across the industry and is not a specific situation. It impacts the recuperation grade and cannot be overlooked. Optimizing the purification steps and minimizing chemical losses will continue to be the priority along with minimizing energy requirements. The intent is also to be able to show value-added by-products such as fertilizer and start working with the industry to optimize chemistry to meet clients' needs and improve value.
This led to an interesting discovery by the metallurgical team. A new approach was introduced in the conception of the Phase II processing technology applied to this type of material. The Company is now ready to conduct scaling tests with a proprietary adaptation of resin balls that will allow the recuperation of the lithium in the leach solution without filtration. The Company believes that this will significantly reduce the loss due to the moisture content. Tests need to be conducted on a large scale to test the potential recuperation improvements as well as the loss of acid that would remain in the acid leach containers and be recycled to process more material. It is important to note that the lithium loss due to moisture in the filtration press ends up in the mining residue without creating important challenges. However, the acid rejected constitutes a more important issue as it needs to be neutralized, increasing infrastructure, neutralization material, and workforce costs that, even if it is not estimated yet, are guaranteed to be significant. The ability to scale the solution recently discovered is then paramount and constitutes an important and positive development.
ON BEHALF OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
"Vilhjalmur T. Vilhjalmsson"
VILHJALMUR THOR VILHJALMSSON
President & CEO
About Carrefour d'innovation sur les materiaux de la MRC des Sources (CIMMS)
CIMMS is a publicly funded research and development corporation located in Asbestos, Quebec. It is supported by numerous local and regional organizations, along with the provincial and federal governments. CIMMS develops and carries out technological innovation projects specifically related to the industrial, mining/metallurgy and innovative materials sectors.
About St-Georges Metallurgy Corp.
Created to manage all metallurgical research and development, joint ventures and partnerships, and hold all mineral processing technology intellectual property and patents. The Corporation is a wholly-owned subsidiary of St-Georges Eco-Mining Corp.
About St-Georges Eco-Mining Corp.
St-Georges is developing new technologies to solve some of the most common environmental problems in the mining industry. The Company controls all the active mineral tenures in Iceland. It also explores for nickel on the Julie Nickel Project & the Manicouagan Palladium Project on Quebec's North Shore and for lithium and rare metals in Northern Quebec and in the Abitibi region. Headquartered in Montreal, St-Georges' stock is listed on the CSE under the symbol SX, on the US OTC under the Symbol SXOOF and on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange under the symbol 85G1
The Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE) has not reviewed and does not accept responsibility for the adequacy or the accuracy of the contents of this release.