Prospect Resources starts construction of pilot plant at Arcadia lithium mine

A high grade core sample from Arcadia's drilling programme

Prospect Resources, which is developing Arcadia lithium mine near Goromonzi, has begun construction of a pilot plant to produce high-purity petalite and low-iron spodumene.

Long-lead equipment, such as flotation cells, have now been secured and the high-purity flotation plant is ready to operate, Prospect says in an update.

With the plant, Arcadia will supply bulk samples of Prospect’s products to customers to obtain the product qualification that it needs to access key markets and raise demand for its products. The plant will supply samples to Uranium One Group, which is currently conducting due diligence on Prospect with a view to investing in the operation. The samples will be key to validate Arcadia’s product.

“Our current key focus is to operate a pilot plant to replicate the Arcadia flowsheet to produce high purity petalite and spodumene. The pilot plant delivers a number of key objectives for customers, project finance parties and investors in de-risking the Arcadia project,” said Managing Director Sam Hosack.

Plant design

The pilot plant’s design is based on German consultancy ANZAPLAN’s flotation test work. The size of the pilot plant was also scaled up by the Beijing General Research Institute of Mining and Metallurgy using flotation technology solutions, Prospect said.

The pilot plant will initially produce 500 tonnes of petalite and 120 tonnes of spodumene concentrates for customers to qualify and validate.

Prospect has targeted to complete a front-end engineering and design (FEED) study in the first half of 2021. This study determines the scale of growth and capacity of the mine.

Prospect recently raised an additional US$4.3 million in capital to develop the pilot plant.

In August, Prospect signed a seven-year deal to supply ultra-low iron petalite to Belgium’s Sibelco, the largest distributor of the metal in Europe and one of the world’s largest glass-ceramic manufacturers. Petalite is used in the glass and ceramics industry.

With the Sibelco deal, all of the petalite that Prospect will produce from Arcadia in the first seven years now has guaranteed buyers.