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Lilac Solutions achieves major milestone at Kachi Plant

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Global Mining Review,

Lilac Solutions has announced that it met a critical milestone at the Kachi lithium brine project, successfully producing 2500 kg of lithium carbonate equivalents (LCEs) using its proprietary ion exchange technology. Based on this successful result, Lilac has in-creased its ownership of the Kachi Project from 10% to 20%. The project is now on track to move from its pilot phase into commercial-scale development, which will make it the first lithium brine project in South America to produce lithium at commercial scale without the use of evaporation ponds for lithium concentration.

The achievement at the Kachi Project represents a historic advancement in lithium production technology. This is the first successful implementation of ion exchange for lithium production in South America, home to most of the world’s lithium brine re-sources. The milestone builds upon Lilac’s success in completing over 200 000 hours of operations at mini-pilot and pilot scale in North America.

Dave Snydacker, CEO of Lilac Solutions, said: “Today’s announcement marks a new era in scalable lithium production. Lithium is a cornerstone of the energy transition – but limitations in production technology have led to increased costs, scarcity, and extreme price volatility. Today, we’ve proven that it is possible to produce high-purity lithium faster and without evaporation ponds – all while protecting surrounding communities and ecosystems. I’m grateful to Lake Resources for their partnership in developing this project, and I look forward to our continued success as we chart a new path in lithium production.”

The 2500 kg of LCEs was extracted at Kachi with 80% lithium recovery, 90% plant uptime, 1000x less land compared with evaporation ponds, and 10x less water compared with conventional aluminium-based absorbents. The results speak for themselves:

  • Speed to Production: Lilac commissioned the plant onsite in under a month, more than 10x faster than conventional processes, and immediately began continuous production of lithium chloride;
  • High Lithium Recoveries: Lilac is achieving 80% lithium recovery from a brine with 200 – 300 mg/L of lithium, roughly double the lithium recoveries of most brine production;
  • High Water Efficiency: Lilac’s technology is extremely water efficient, enabling production of lithium chloride with 10x less water compared to conventional aluminium-based absorbents;
  • Product Purity: The lithium chloride Lilac produces is low in impurities, enabling efficient production of high-purity lithium carbonate for battery manufacturers. Rejection of boron, a troublesome impurity for brine projects, is greater than 99.9%;
  • Continuous Operations: Lilac has been operating 24/7, with 90% uptime; this is a reliable automated plant designed for scalable manufacturing and operations;
  • No Evaporation Ponds: Lilac’s ion exchange technology does not require evaporation ponds for brine concentration, unlike other so-called “direct extraction” technologies which rely on evaporation ponds to concentrate the lithium;
  • Validated Performance: An independent engineer visited the plant and analysed more than one hundred samples from across the plant to validate performance and confirm consistency with engineering work.

This is an inflection point in the lithium industry at a time when lithium demand is expected to surge dramatically in the coming years. The auto industry requires a 20x increase in lithium production to electrify all vehicles, and conventional lithium extraction methods – which require either the use of open pit mines or evaporation ponds – have struggled to scale due to high costs and environmental impacts.

In contrast, the Lilac technology can be deployed rapidly on site with minimal impacts on local communities and ecosystems. The technology also enables significantly higher recoveries of lithium – even from resources with lower lithium concentrations. The achievement of the Kachi milestone, which replicates extensive offsite test work by Lilac and is the second successful onsite pilot plant campaign by Lilac, lays the groundwork for the massive increase in lithium production required for the energy transition with minimal impact on the local environment.

When fully developed by Lake and Lilac, the Kachi project is expected to produce 50 000 tpy of battery-grade lithium products.

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Lithium mining news South American mining news