SRC Developing New Lithium Recovery Technology
The Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) is one of Canada’s leading providers of applied research, development and demonstration (RD&D), and technology commercialization. With more than 350 employees, more than $70 million in annual revenue and 71 years of RD&D experience, SRC provides products and services to its 1,500 clients in 20 countries around the world.
SRC is working with mining companies to develop lithium recovery processes from various sources to produce battery-grade lithium products, and also to pilot and test new lithium recovery technologies. Its Mining and Minerals team develops, optimizes and tests lithium recovery technologies from all sources – hard rocks, clays and solutions (brine and produced water).
Lithium recovery from hard rock and clay deposits normally involves a series of physical processing and hydrometallurgical steps to remove unwanted elements before being precipitated as lithium carbonate.
SRC has worked with companies in Canada, Australia and the U.S. to recover lithium from spodumene, lepidolite, petalite, smectite, illite, pegmatite and other lithium-bearing hard rock ores and clay deposits.
In addition to testing and optimizing mining companies´ own lithium recovery processes, the Mining and Minerals team is also developing its own more selective and cost-effective lithium recovery from brine technology, to overcome the challenges of the traditional lithium recovery process.
The successful implementation of this selective recovery technology will significantly reduce the lithium production cost – both capital and operating – and make it easier to recover and produce battery-grade lithium.
Brines have the potential to provide major resources for lithium into the future. As the industry grows, there will be new challenges and opportunities that will require innovative methods and processes to help mining companies sustainably get more value out of their brines.
This work is being led by a team of engineers and technologists within SRC’s Mineral Processing group, including Jack Zhang, P.Eng., Bryan Schreiner, P.Eng., P.Geo., Baodong Zhao, P.Eng. and Dennis Wang, P.Eng.