PERTH (miningweekly.com) – ASX-listed Neometals has partnered with Indian company Manikaran Power to conduct a feasibility study (FS) evaluating a lithium hydroxide refinery in India.
The FS would be based on a nominal capacity of 20 000 t/y of lithium hydroxide.
Neometals and Manikaran last year struck a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to jointly fund evaluation towards the development of the first lithium refinery in India, with the parties to share test-work and evaluation costs.
The MoU contemplated the production of primarily lithium chemicals at a minimum rate of 10 000 t/y of lithium hydroxide equivalent.
The FS now being undertaken has doubled the proposed nameplate capacity to include toll-treatment capabilities at the request of market participants, while the originally planned lithium carbonate co-product stream has also been eliminated, offering scope for significant economies of scale from the expanded output, and overall capital efficiency gains from a simplified flowsheet and process plant.
Neometals told shareholders on Tuesday that the start of the FS was significant as it represented a commitment from both parties to advance the evaluation to a higher level of accuracy and detail and to jointly fund costs associated with the FS.
“The decision to increase the capacity of the lithium refinery and simplify the product mix is in response to feedback from potential offtake customers. Advancement to FS supports Manikaran’s conviction to refine lithium chemicals in India and to do so in a manner that is capital efficient and adequately meets growing forecast domestic demand,” the company said.
“Our conviction in the long-term opportunity for lithium, and indeed for a suite of other lithium battery raw materials, remains very strong. The lithium refinery supports Neometals’ desire to derive value from its life-of-mine spodumene offtake option at Mt Marion by moving downstream to capture higher value and margins from lithium chemical products,” said MD Chris Reed.
“In short, the lithium refiner represents a strategic low cost option to produce the key ingredient in the electric vehicle battery, timed to deliver into a strong supply shortage mid-decade.
“Given recent global economic events, the importance of nationalised supply chains is more evident than ever. This is particularly relevant for India with its government target of achieving 100% electric vehicle sales by 2030, despite presently having no domestic lithium chemical production to supply significant planned domestic cathode and lithium ion battery cell production capacity.”