PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Major Rio Tinto has started spodumene concentrate production at a demonstration plant at its Rio Tinto Iron and Titanium (RTIT) Quebec Operation, in Canada.
The plant will demonstrate at industrial scale a new spodumene concentration process that provides lithium oxide grades and recoveries well above the industry average.
The process was developed by researchers at Rio’s critical minerals and technology centre and tested on spodumene ore samples from various countries. It offers the environmental benefit of not using chemical products and generating only dry, inert residues, Rio said on Friday.
“Rio Tinto is exploring new, sustainable ways to extract battery materials for the energy transition. We are seeing strong interest in the market for a North American supply of spodumene concentrate to support production of lithium batteries,” RTIT MD Stéphane Leblanc said.
“Our demonstration plant will allow us to further validate the innovative spodumene concentration process developed at our critical minerals and technology centre as we consider moving to commercial scale production.”
The demonstration plant was commissioned in June after successful laboratory testing of the new process and produced its first ton of spodumene concentrate in July 2022. It will test ore from various local suppliers including lithium developer Sayona Mining.