Spodumene: A Mineral Source of Lithium

Elliott A, ; Kingsnorth D J,
Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 8
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1989
The development of a large high grade spodumene orebody, in excess of 30M tonnes containing at least 7M tonnes at 4.0% Li20, by Lithium Australia Ltd at Greenbushes, Western Australia is significantly increasing the world consumption of lithium minerals. The availability of two low cost sources of lithium, spodumene concentrates (7.5% Li20) and glass grade spodumene (4.8% Li20) has been welcomed by the ceramic and glass industries as it assists them to lower their raw material costs at a time when they are facing severe competition from alternative materials. While there is no shortage of lithium reserves in the world, there has been a shortage of high quality lithium minerals. The Lithium Australia development has filled this need. The favourable factors of high grade, low impurities, open cut mining and existing infrastructure make this an ideal low cost source for a long term downstream lithium industry. The Lithium Australia mine development has filled the need for a reliable long term supply of lithium minerals. The long term viability of this resource is ensured by the unique combination of the following key attributes of the development : High grade reserves of 7.OM tonnes of 4.0% Li20 within 130 metres of the surface, contained within a total proven reserve of 30M tonnes of 2.8 % Li20. Open pit mining with stripping ratio of less than 2.5:1 waste:ore. Low impurities levels, particularly in those elements, that have a detrimental effect on the colour of glass/ceramics i.e. iron, manganese, titanium and chromium. An existing mine infrastructure that includes an adequate water supply for all foreseeable processing requirements. A sophisticated spodumene concentrator utilizing statistical process control to produce a consistently high grade product with minimal impurities. A technically qualified stable workforce fully acquainted with spodumene processing techniques. Greenbushes high grade concentrates have found ready acceptance in the specialty ceramic and glass industries during the past four years. The consistency and high grade/low impurity level of the product has enabled its use in the production of television tubes, oven to table ware, glass fibres, specialty glasses and ceramic glazes.
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