UK-listed Andrada Mining has reported the first lithium concentrate production from its pilot plant, which was commissioned last month at its Uis lithium project in Namibia.
Located next to the main tin processing plant at Uis mine, the pilot plant has produced ten tonnes (t) of concentrate so far.
Andrada expects that the monthly production could reach up to 250t by the end of March 2024.
However, the initial objective is to produce sufficient bulk samples of petalite concentrate within specifications to supply to premium specialist glass and ceramics markets.
The company is producing concentrate for metallurgical test work to find out appropriate specifications for the lithium battery market. This will be followed by producing concentrate to be sold commercially on the spot market.
It is estimated that the petalite concentrate could fetch between $1,600 and $2,200 per tonne in the current spot market.
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By aiming for pegmatites with higher lithium grades, the company could produce concentrate for all lithium markets.
Within next January, it will also ramp up its exploration and metallurgical test work, to identify additional pegmatites with higher lithium concentration.
Besides, Andrada plans to build a lithium mining and concentration facility with a minimum of 15,000t per annum of lithium carbonate equivalent production capacity. This will need between 2.5 and 3 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of ore.
The exploration work is being planned for next year and has been designed to enhance the understanding of mineralisation across all of the company’s mining licences.
At the Uis mine, resource validation drilling will be taken up, to enhance the current mineral resource estimate (MRE) classification of tin, to prove the mineral potential of lithium and other metals.
Furthermore, high-density drilling at its Lithium Ridge project will be implemented to develop a maiden MRE and improve the understanding of lithium mineralisation.
A drilling programme could define high-grade spodumene zones at its Spodumene Hill project.
Andrada CEO Anthony Viljoen said: “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.
“The early results from the recently commissioned lithium processing pilot facility have instilled unwavering optimism. We are also pleased by the ongoing negotiations with lithium off-takers that target Andrada’s involvement in all downstream lithium markets, and we look forward to providing further details as these negotiations progress.
“Overall, we consider the pilot plant to serve as a crucial de-risking element in the company’s lithium portfolio, further bolstering our confidence in Andrada’s lithium strategy.”
Earlier this month, Andrada secured $25m (£20.11m) from Orion Resource Partners’s Orion Mine Finance to advance the Uis mine.