Millennial Lithium Corp. (ML: TSX.V) (A3N2:GR: Frankfurt) (MLNLF: OTCQB) (“Millennial” or the “Company”) announced that commissioning of its lithium carbonate pilot plant at the Company’s flagship Pastos Grandes Project is underway. The pilot plant, located adjacent to the Pastos Grandes Salar, is a full flowsheet design for producing up to 3 tonnes per month (tpm) of battery grade lithium carbonate. Pilot ponds, filled with brine pumped from the central part of Millennial’s Project and in operation from late 2018, are at the required concentration to provide lithium-rich brine concentrate to the pilot plant.
Farhad Abasov, President and CEO commented “Millennial is pleased to announce the commissioning of its pilot plant designed to produce up to 3 tpm of battery grade lithium carbonate. Despite COVID-19 restrictions and minor delays, the Millennial team has advanced the lithium concentration ponds and the pilot plant to the production stage. Evaporation ponds have been concentrating lithium and plant feed. The first stage of the plant, the Solvent Extraction (SX) unit to remove Boron (B) has been installed and tested. The first output of battery grade lithium carbonate is planned for Q4, 2020 marking another significant milestone for the Company. Millennial remains well funded and continues in its financing efforts to advance development of the Pastos Grandes Project. Despite COVID-19 restrictions and slowdowns the Company has continued progressing its work with a number of off-takers and strategic investors. We are well on track with all our corporate programs.”
The pilot plant is being fed with concentrated lithium-rich brine from the smaller feeder ponds which had reached a grade of 2.7% Li, and expected to reach the target 3% Li with naturally reduced impurities by the time the full flow sheet is commissioned. The onset of the spring high evaporation season in the puna of Salta accentuated by the beginning of the dry season has resulted in a marked increase in the Li concentration and natural precipitation and reduction of impurities in the full ponds system. Brine chemistry, particularly K, B, Ca, Mg, and SO4 concentrations, are in line with the process and plant design parameters.
The optimization of the pilot plant and trial runs indicate that all components are functioning as designed. The first phase of the process, the Solvent Extraction (SX) system to facilitate removal of Boron (B), is in progress. Minor pre-operational design adjustments to the brine purification carbonation reactors, filtering systems, the main lithium carbonate precipitation reactor, ion exchange (IX) and the CO2 purification system have been completed. In addition, Millennial has embarked on a significant staffing increase, including retaining experienced process engineers, supervisors and operators. It has also retained experienced health and safety supervisors as part of its strategy to train and educate operators and facilitate plant operation from installation and commissioning with the end-goal of providing fully qualified staff with insight into the full production process including future commercial operation. To further meet Health and Safety regulations additional extraction hoods and fire resistant components were fabricated and installed and a comprehensive Health, Safety and environmental protocol and training program has been implemented for all stages of the plant.
The initial production from the pilot plant will be achieved in batch mode to further test and optimize the individual stage processes prior to more efficiently transitioning to continuous flow production. Millennial anticipates completion of the first batch processing and production of battery grade lithium carbonate in Q4, 2020.