Stria Lithium Inc. (TSX VENTURE:SRA)(OTCQX:SRCAF) is pleased to announce it has recovered lithium chloride from hard rock lithium aluminum silicates other than spodumene from tests of its proprietary chlorination process.
In May, 2014, Stria announced it had developed a proprietary, environmentally sustainable spodumene-to-lithium chloride production process that directly yields lithium chloride required to obtain high-value, in-demand lithium metal through conventional lithium salt electrolysis. (News release filed on SEDAR May 20, 2014)
The potential benefits of the company's in-house developed technologies are that they require less energy; allow for the recycling of chemicals; reduce capital costs by the construction of smaller more compact processing facilities; can be easily automated and they provide a cleaner environmental footprint.
Dr. Iain Todd, Stria Lithium's President and Chief Operating Officer said bench scale testing at the Company's research facilities in Kingston, Ontario demonstrated that petalite, a lithium-bearing mineral can be successfully converted and processed to make lithium chloride together with a "clean" mixed alumino silicate byproduct.
"While the process has not yet been optimized or evaluated economically, it opens up new opportunities for the application of Stria's chlorination technology for the recovery of lithium metal and lithium compounds from alternate hard rock ore sources and of course our process holds the potential to generate future technology sales opportunities," said Dr. Todd.
Petalite, is a lithium aluminium mineral LiAlSi4O10 . It is a member of the feldspathoid group and occurs as colorless, grey, yellow, yellow grey, to white tabular crystals and columnar masses. It is typically found in lithium-bearing pegmatites either on its own or with spodumene, lepidolite, and tourmaline.
Petalite is an important source of lithium with a primary economic application as raw material for the glass-ceramic industry but is increasingly being investigated as a possible source of lithium for the burgeoning EV battery market.
Stria believes its technology-oriented business plan is unique in the lithium mining industry and aims to build early shareholder value from investments in the production and fabrication of niche lithium metal products sold into an underserved North American market.
Current North American demand for lithium metal is approximately 1120 MT per year while production is approximately 500 MT per year. Stria aims to meet the imbalance for this high-value, niche product from Canadian production.
While Stria continues its development of its highly prospective Pontax lithium property in Northern Quebec, its immediate focus is on the application of technologies involved in processing market available lithium compounds into high purity lithium metal and foils.
Stria is planning the commissioning of a 20kg/day lithium metal production pilot plant in 2017.The pilot plant will establish the optimum technical and feasibility requirements for design and construction of a 1000kg/day lithium metal production plant planned for commissioning by the end of Q1 2018.
Stria is partnered with Grafoid Inc., Braille Battery Inc. and Focus Graphite Inc. in the "2GL Platform," a globally unique, renewable energy business and technology alliance that aims to provide critical material solutions for the low carbon economy.
Lithium Metal Applications and Markets
Lithium Metal in Batteries: The Lithium Battery is now part of the vocabulary of battery technology. Lithium ion batteries however do not contain metallic lithium. Primary batteries (hearing aids and other coin cell types) that are for the most part not rechargeable do use a thin lithium foil as the anode. The market is growing in a healthy fashion and is driven by purity and the quality of the foil. Specialized equipment and expertise is needed and this represents a barrier to entry for potential competitors. The foil itself is difficult to ship safely because of fire issues and the market is small. It is however lucrative. North America produces only 60% of its requirements, and the shortfall is imported from Asia.
Lithium Metal as a feedstock for the pharmaceutical industry: Lithium compounds are used as a treatment for bi-polar disorder and some forms of depression. Lithium metal on the other hand is used as a feed material that is dissolved in chemicals like ammonia. The resulting materials are precursors for a variety of organometallic compounds. High purity is important and the market is willing to pay for such purity. The physical form of the lithium Metal is not important.
Lithium metal as an alloying element in aluminum: Lithium Metal is added to aluminum to increase strength primarily for use in Aerospace. The only large producers of such alloys are Alcoa and Constellium. Margins are small reflecting the more modest quality requirements. For Stria this market is driven solely by price and would be a suitable market for low quality or off-spec material.