First commercial-grade spodumene concentrate produced at North American Lithium (NAL) operation in Québec
19 March 2023
Emerging lithium producer Sayona Mining Limited reported the successful production of the first saleable spodumene (lithium) concentrate at its North American Lithium (NAL) operation in Québec, Canada.
NAL is a brownfield open pit mining operation with a concentrator, with more than C$400 million having been invested in the operation by previous owners, including a carbonate plant. The existing plant has nameplate capacity to produce up to 220kt of spodumene concentrate or 30kt LCE per year.
Commissioning activities continue to progress, with approximately 1,200 tonnes of lithium concentrate produced, including SC6 (6% lithium grade). Sayona said that this demonstrates its ability to produce a commercial concentrate, following the recent successful production of the first lithium concentrate.
Typical run-of-mine ore can contain approximately 1-2% Li2O; spodumene concentrate suitable for lithium carbonate production contains 6-7% Li2O. NAL’s total open cut and underground mineral resource (JORC Resource, measured, indicated and inferred) is for 1.06% Li2O.
Broadly, to create spodumene concentrate, the mined spodumene-bearing ore is crushed and ground, then subjected to beneficiation to separate the spodumene from other minerals and impurities. The spodumene concentrate is then roasted to remove any remaining impurities. Specific steps and conditions can vary based on ore deposit and processing plant.
NAL spodumene concentrate
NAL’s restart continues to proceed on schedule and within budget, with the first lithium shipment expected to occur in July 2023. Sayona is targeting total production between 85,000 tonnes and 115,000t during the first half of fiscal 2024.
Engineering is now progressing on the next sub‐project, the Crushed Ore Storage Dome, with close expediting of engineering deliverables implemented.
Sayona’s Managing Director, Brett Lynch said the production of NAL’s first saleable concentrate was a major milestone for the operation’s restart, reflecting the improvements made to enhance production.
The NAL operation will represent the most significant source of hard rock lithium production in North America, boosting Québec’s plans for the development of a local battery sector, from mining to manufacturing.
Sayona has also announced plans for further drilling both at NAL and Jourdan Resources’ adjacent Vallée Lithium Project (earn‐in claims). More than 50,000 meters of drilling are planned, likely one of Québec’s largest drilling programs this year.