Andrada’s Uis lithium pilot plant commissioned

27th November 2023

By: Darren Parker

Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online


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The commissioning of London-listed technology metals mining company Andrada's pilot plant, located adjacent to the main tin processing plant at its Uis mine, in Namibia, was completed in October, resulting in the production of 10 t of on-specification saleable lithium concentrate. 

The production rate is expected to increase to 250 t a month by the end of March 2024. 

“The early results from the recently commissioned lithium processing pilot facility have instilled . . . optimism. We are also pleased by the ongoing negotiations with lithium offtakers that target Andrada's involvement in all downstream lithium markets.  

“Overall, we consider the pilot plant serves as a crucial derisking element in the company's lithium portfolio, further bolstering our confidence in Andrada's lithium strategy,” said Andrada CEO Anthony Viljoen on November 27. 

The initial objective of the pilot plant is to produce sufficient bulk samples of petalite concentrate within specifications for the premium specialist glass and ceramics markets.  

In this regard, Andrada has stated that its directors are pleased with the progress being made in discussions for a petalite offtake agreement. 

The pilot plant is producing concentrate for metallurgical test work to determine appropriate specifications for the lithium battery refinery market. 

By the end of February next year, the intention is to produce concentrate for initial commercial sales into the spot market, which the directors believe is a realistic prospect for the company. 

Early internal estimates suggest that the petalite concentrate from the pilot plant could be priced between $1 600/t and $2 200/t in the current spot market. 

Ongoing metallurgical test work is also being carried out for the production of battery-grade lithium hydroxide. 

By initially targeting pegmatites with a higher lithium grade, Andrada believes it could produce concentrate for all downstream lithium markets. From January next year, the company intends to ramp up its exploration activities and its metallurgical test work programme to identify additional mineral-rich pegmatites that will enhance possibilities for additional revenue streams for the company. 

Andrada aims to build a lithium mining and concentration facility with a minimum production capacity of 15 000 t/y lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE), which will require about 2.5-million to 3-million tonnes a year of run-of-mine ore.  

The long-term production capacity targeted is 50 000 t/y LCE or ten-million tonnes a year of run-of-mine ore. This strategy is underpinned by what the directors believe to be a potentially significant lithium resource within Andrada's mining licences.  

As previously announced, the company is also progressing with strategic process discussions with parties interested in partnering on its lithium projects, and further updates will be provided in due course, as appropriate. 

The exploration programmes planned for 2024 are designed to enhance the understanding of the mineralisation on all the company's mining licences. The exploration team has completed the plans to advance the resource on the mining licences.   

At Uis, resource validation drilling is planned over the northern and central pegmatite clusters to enhance the current mineral resource estimate (MRE) classification of tin, to establish the mineral potential for lithium and other technology metals. 

At Lithium Ridge, the company plans to implement a high-density drilling campaign at the historical TinTan mine area for the development of a maiden MRE and to enhance understanding of the lithium mineralisation within the high-priority pegmatites identified. 

At Spodumene Hill, the company aims to undertake a drill programme to delineate the higher grade spodumene zones within the B1 and C1 pegmatites, as well as the mapped satellite bodies surrounding the main mineralised units. 

The exploration strategy will remain flexible to enable the company to investigate any additional mineralisation opportunities they encounter as they implement the planned programmes. 

"We believe that our efforts throughout the year have the potential to place Andrada at the forefront of lithium development in Africa. The discovery of additional lithium within the company-owned Lithium Ridge and Spodumene Hill also underscores the possibility that Namibia's Erongo region could be a key participant in the global lithium landscape, with the potential to host a cluster of significant mines,” Viljoen said.   

The primary lithium minerals at Andrada's three mining licences are petalite and spodumene, with their distributions varying across the licence areas. The explored pegmatites on Uis are petalite dominant, while on Lithium Ridge and Spodumene Hill, they are spodumene-dominant.  

Andrada's lithium development strategy, therefore, incorporates the production of both petalite and spodumene concentrates, enabling multiple offtake options suitable for both the industrial (glass-ceramics) and chemical (battery) concentrate markets.  

The company is implementing metallurgical testwork to determine the possibility of producing battery-grade lithium hydroxide, as well as to determine optimal production from Uis, Spodumene Hill and Lithium Ridge. 

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online



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