European Metals Holdings announced the completion of the concentration testwork for lithium as part of its ongoing pre-feasibility study.
The AIM-traded firm said the testwork has improved recoveries significantly from those used in the scoping study which - when combined with the lower operating costs of wet magnetic separation against flotation - will significantly boost the economics of the project.
It said wet magnetic separation achieved a near pure lithium mica concentrate grading 2.85% Li2O with a lithium recovery of 92%.
Lithium recoveries were 10-15% higher than those achieved via floation in the scoping study, with a coarse grind of p100 passing 250 microns reducing the milling power consumption substantially.
The wet magnetic separation plant has a smaller footprint and water demand than flotation, with a reduced operating cost and lower environmental impact as there is no need to import expensive reagents.
EMH said the ore is suitable for a single stage jaw crush and SAG mill which further decreases operating and capital costs.
PFS metallurgy work will now focus on the lithium carbonate processing plant with the aim of maximising both lithium and tin recoveries, and results from that work are expected by the end of the year.
"I am very pleased to report that we have successfully demonstrated that wet magnetic separation of the Cinovec ore offers an inexpensive and very effective technique for separating lithium mica," said managing director Keith Coughlan.
"The process has the additional advantage of improving environmental performance and lowering operating costs compared to previously considered flotation."
Coughland said the unique characteristics of the Cinovec mineralogy provide a major beneficiation advantage over competing hard rock lithium deposits.
"The presence of iron in the Zinnwaldite allows magnetic separation to be the most efficient separation technique at a very coarse grind.
"Compared to competitors' flowsheets that generally rely on fine milling and flotation often with a de-sliming step, magnetic separation is a simpler technique with a lower operating cost and higher metallurgical recovery without large scale use of float reagents and acids which can contaminate tailings," Coughlan explained.
He also said that, as a result of the ability to use a coarse grind, the company has demonstrated that Cinovec ore is a good candidate for single stage jaw crushing followed by SAG milling, which further decreases the capital and operating cost of the project.
"The combination of these factors will result in not only industry leading recoveries, but lower capital and operating costs which will be incorporated in the on-going pre-feasibility study."