LPD 0.00% 2.9¢ lepidico ltd

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    Hey @Thesi, thanks for bringing this up. I didn't want to address these points over on the GXY thread, because I wanted to stick to facts and keep it short.

    But here we can get into the lengthy conjecture and subjective discussion about it.

    So, first things first, here's the announcement: http://www.lepidico.com/wp-content/...-High-Recoveries-from-Mt-Cattlin-Tailings.pdf

    What do I think Lepidico tested from Mt Cattlin?

    Tailings. I don't know what the tailings looked like, I don't know what was in them, I don't know how selective the team were when they picked them, if they were at all.

    Obviously, the best case scenario here is that someone from GXY literally went over to the tailings conveyor belt, shoveled some stuff into a box and mailed it to LPD's lab. That would mean that they just grabbed whatever and used it, which would bode well for future development. I hope that, or something similar, is what happened, but who knows?

    Next, they were able to separate it with a flotation circuit. Not hard to set up a small flotation circuit, as I understand. It's simple technology. The tricky bit is making it work.

    I don't know what your knowledge of flotation is, but here's a pretty simple explanation. You put in a liquid with a certain specific gravity. Then you drop your rocks into it. Anything with a higher specific gravity will sink, anything with the same specific gravity will float around in the middle and anything with a lower specific gravity will float to the top. There's a good website here with some info:

    My understanding is spodumene has a specific gravity of 3-3.2, while lepidolite is 2.8-2.9, zinnwaldite and amblygonite are 2.9-3.1.

    So you can see lepidolite should be pretty easy to separate from spodumene. Zinnwaldite and amblygonite are going to be trickier. I don't know what the geology at Mt Cattlin is, so I can't comment about which of the L-Max friendly micas they would likely have been working on. Maybe you know this? I tried to find it in GXY announcements, but they do like to keep their cards close to their chest.

    Anyway, the process would assumedly have been easier because GXY should have gotten most of the spodumene out. If what they were left with is mostly lepidolite, or if the team of clever bunnies at LPD can separate the other two from spodumene, then it's all good. They are hydrometallurgists after all, so I'm sure they could figure it out if anyone could.

    So they were able to separate out the micas that they can use, and captured 96.6% of the lithium in this recovery, which is pretty dang good. From that you might say they got most of the mica, maybe even all of it, and the rest was spodumene, who knows.

    From there, they were able to leach 94% of the lithium (total lithium down to 90.8%), then there was another 4% lost in the further downstream processing (total lithium down to 86.8%).

    So end to end recoveries of 86%, which is pretty bloody competitive, and post-flotation recovery of over 90%, with them scratching their heads about why they only got 94% instead of 98% from the leaching. Expect more work to be done refining this.

    The big question mark around all this is how scalable is it. They were able to demonstrate this at the bench test level, which is great, but you have to wonder what recoveries would look like when it's all scaled up.

    Because that's what makes it a viable business, and that's what AC was getting at over in the GXY thread. Which is fair enough; there's difficulty here and there's challenges to overcome, but of course there are, otherwise someone else would have done it by now.

    The important thing is that the team are pursuing the right strategies to get it done.

    Enter the cPlant:

    A flotation circuit designed to capture the lepidolite that we want, which is a great first step. It won't be immediately transferable to Mt Cattlin, as it is being setup to separate feldspar and quartz from the lepidolite. Feldspar and quartz have a specific gravity of about 2.6, so it should be much easier to separate out the lepidolite and any other lithium bearing micas than it would be to separate those from spodumene.

    But getting the cPlant up and running is a big first step. It will get the team operating this type of equipment, undoubtedly learning lessons, and then they can tweak and develop, re-gear and load a different fluid into it as necessary to potentially try something similar at Mt Cattlin. That's my theory, at least.

    Why do I think they bothered to test the tailings from Mt Cattlin?

    Well, GXY didn't invest in LPD because they were feeling altruistic and I doubt they were doing it as a promising venture capital move. They've got a bunch of mica that is worth a shedload more if it can be converted into battery grade product, or even if it can just be sold on a similar pricing basis to spodumene. That's what I outlined in my first post over at GXY.


    If the engineering and metallurgy can be sorted out, there's absolutely an opportunity for them to work together and do business.

    Also taken from the latest quarterly:

    "Further collaborative testwork with Galaxy specific to Mt Cattlin will be considered once the current plant upgrade at the operation is complete and samples from the expanded plant can be sourced."


    My understanding is that Mt Cattlin is getting some shiny new upgrades to extract even more spodumene from the mix, operating from Q3 this year. Why more collaborative testwork?

    From the original announcement:

    "Optimisation testwork specific to Mt Cattlin is being evaluated to maximise lithium and by-product extractions, while minimising acid and power consumption."

    Which I read as "working out how we need to modify the flotation circuit to get exactly what we want in the leaching stage".

    I think they're working on it to see if it is economic to pursue. Which leads to your next question.

    Do I think this is simply a marketing strategy?

    No. I don't think anything the LPD team has done is purely for marketing purposes. In my emails with Joe he has always been straight to the point and as informative as he can be without divulging market sensitive information. If anything, our biggest complaint here is that we don't get enough announcements, not too many.

    They're getting on and getting the job done, rather than wasting time writing press releases.

    Do I think there is more to it?

    Absolutely. As far as I see it panning out, Alvarroes is LPD's operation to get P1 up and running and get cashflow in. P1 has been pushed back a bit as they figure out better ways of doing things, because they know that every little thing they can get right in P1 will have a multiplier effect as they scale up to P2 and then repeat that process in P3/P4.

    For example, taking the time now to figure out all the by-products you can make, including from residue streams, gives you a heap more options for P2. If P2 is 3x the size of P1, and making P1 a zero waste facility saves you X dollars, then it will save you 3X dollars in P2, and potentially 6X dollars in P3/P4. Altogether that's 10X savings.

    I digress. I think Alvarroes is the first stepping stone to getting into operation and getting cash in the door. Further down the track, I think the team may not want to be mining at all, if possible. Instead, I think they'd rather have someone else do the mining and LPD just turns up with a cPlant and sifts through the waste for the bits we want.

    Mt Cattlin represents the second step towards that goal. It would be moving from our own operation to working in synergy with someone else at their mine site. It's obviously greatly helped by GXY being a major shareholder, but they have an interest from the R&D perspective.

    If the tests go well, at some point I think we will hear there is a joint feasibility study being done about putting a cPlant at Mt Cattlin. I think that is more likely than GXY making the modifications themselves. There has to be a feasibility study to make sure its the right thing to do. If it is, and an offtake agreement is signed between the two, then Mt Cattlin suddenly gets a bump to its reserves and LPD have a new source of feed.

    After that, LPD can look at other miners who may be happy with a similar deal. But that's further down the track. Wayyyyy further down the track.

    Anyway, this has taken me ages to write, so I hope it answers all your questions. Always happy for a discussion.

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