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Expansion to lithium production ongoing

24th February 2023

By: Halima Frost

Senior Writer


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Aim- and NSX-listed Andrada Mining, formerly AfriTin Mining, says its pivot towards a focus on lithium production, having previously treated lithium as a by-product, is becoming increasingly more relevant amid the rise in the lithium price over the past year.

As part of its five-year growth strategy, the company aims to enlarge its footprint in Namibia by expanding its existing operations.

Andrada has started to expand existing plant infrastructure in line with a focus on increased lithium production; it announced the commissioning of the initial Uis plant expansion in November 2022.

The construction of a standalone lithium pilot facility has commenced, with commissioning targeted for end of the second quarter of this calendar year.

The pilot plant is intended as a proof of concept for a full-scale, integrated lithium beneficiation circuit, which will be added to the existing processing plant.

The petalite lithium concentrate produced from the pilot plant is intended for initial sales into premium glass and ceramic markets.

The concentrate will also constitute test material sent to existing or prospective converters of lithium ore concentrates to battery-grade lithium.

Additionally, a tantalum separation circuit is being constructed on the existing plant.

Commissioning is also expected in the second quarter, with tantalum concentrate expected soon thereafter.

The potential production of tantalum and lithium is expected to benefit from the plant throughput expansion, owing to their co-occurrence with tin within the ore.

“Revenue streams for multiple technology metal concentrates are ultimately possible by expanding the current tin-producing operation to include lithium and tantalum,” says Andrada Mining CEO Anthony Viljoen.

The planned development projects are anticipated to take between six and 12 months at a capital cost of between $15-million and $20-million.

The projected cost includes all lithium-related studies, resource definition and drilling activities, the pilot-scale metallurgical testing and the work that Andrada plans to conduct with Australian mineral processing company Nagrom.

“Andrada will leverage its existing infrastructure for the lithium pilot plant, and additional infrastructure expansion will be considered following the success of the pilot plant.”

Confirmatory drilling as done at Uis has begun on the B1/C1 licence area that is located 10 km from the mine.

The drilling is to investigate options to unlock opportunity from its B1/C1 licence area, which appears to contain primary lithium mineralisation, accompanied by secondary tin and tantalum mineralisation.

The goal of the exploration is to investigate the pegmatites within the mining licence areas to expand the resource to the targeted 200-million tonnes.

Further, Andrada has an multi-phased exploration programme under way at its Brandberg West exploration licence area, located 107 km from the Uis mine. The area hosts a historical tin and tungsten mine that was operated by Gold Fields from the mid-1940s to the early 1980s.

The licence area contains a polymetallic deposit that hosts primary tin and tungsten as well as secondary copper mineralisation respectively.

Joining Forces

“Testwork to convert lithium petalite concentrate to battery-grade lithium hydroxide has been initiated with Nagrom, and commercial engagements with lithium petalite concentrate offtakers are ongoing,” says Viljoen.

As indicated by the additional inferred mineral resource estimate, which Andrada released earlier this month, Uis is still one of the largest tin assets globally and, therefore, remains an integral part of its operations.

“Over the next few months, as we develop the lithium processing capabilities, lithium will play the role of a co-product revenue stream with the tin operation,” he adds.

The focus since the company’s listing has been to develop the tin pilot plant that has to date created sufficient cash flow to progress the lithium development programme.

With the initial expansion complete and ramp-up under way, Andrada is fast-tracking the development of the lithium and tantalum products.

Viljoen says that Andrada is upgrading the confidence level of its lithium mineral stream with a confirmatory drilling programme to progress the resource to measured and indicated status.

“Results to date are very much in line with the company’s high expectations and confirm the scale and quality of the deposit.”

Viljoen emphasises that producing the lithium concentrate will maximise shareholder returns.

“Given the crucial role that lithium is playing and will continue to play in lithium-ion battery chemistries, and the huge deficit in the global supply chain, Andrada believes that it can play a major role in the global energy transition,” he concludes.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor



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