Lepidico Limited (ASX:LPD) Managing Director, Joe Walsh provides an update on the company's L-Max pilot plant, hard rock lithium projects and strategy.
Jessica Amir: Hi I’m Jessica Amir for the Finance News Network. Today I’m with Lepidico Limited (ASX:LPD) Managing Director, Joe Walsh. Hi Joe, welcome to the Network.
Joe Walsh: Hello Jessica.
Jessica Amir: For those who aren’t familiar with Lepidico (ASX:LPD), can you just give us a quick introduction?
Joe Walsh: Lepidico was listed in 2016 and is a lithium exploration development company. We’ve made rapid progress in advancing our proprietary technologies, and are in the process of developing our first pilot plant.
Jessica Amir: Before we talk about your projects, just tell us about your process technology?
Joe Walsh: Our central process technology is L-Max, which extracts lithium carbonate from lithium mica and lithium phosphate minerals. L-Max has been developed over the course of around the last four years. And today, we actually announced that it has been complemented with a new process technology called, LOH-Max, which produces lithium hydroxide. And we’re looking to integrate LOH-Max into the back end of our pilot plant project and also, our phase one plant project.
Additionally, it’s important to note that our LOH-Max technology produces lithium hydroxide, without the production of sodium sulphate. Which is a by-product for many lithium chemical processes and is getting into a situation of oversupply.
Jessica Amir: Sounds like it could be a game changer. Now can you tell us about your L-Max pilot plant?
Joe Walsh: Our L-Max pilot plant is being built in Perth in Western Australia. It’s on schedule and within budget. And should be commissioning in April of this year and operating in May. It will include the LOH-Max technology, which will allow it to produce both lithium carbonate from the L-Max circuitry, but also produce lithium hydroxide.
Jessica Amir: Now let’s dive into your projects. Can you tell us about the Alvarroes project?
Joe Walsh: The Alvarroes lepidolite mine is an existing mine in northern Portugal; it’s been operating since 1992. It’s owned by a Portuguese private company called Grupo Mota, and Lepidico have an ore offtake arrangement with the owner. We drilled out a resource last year and we did some further drilling, at the end of last year. We should be estimating a new mineral resource for Alvarroes by the end of this quarter. The objective is to expand the existing mine. And also, build a small concentrator that will produce lepidolite concentrate for export to our phase one plant, chemical plant, in Sudbury in Canada.
Jessica Amir: Staying on the theme of Canada. Can you tell us about your project, your phase one project, in Sudbury Canada?
Joe Walsh: We originally committed to the project in Sudbury, as a result of our main reagent being sulphuric acid. And there are two large nickel smelters in Sudbury that collectively, produce about a million tonnes a year of sulphuric acid. The phase one plant project is a demonstration scale facility. That will produce approximately 5,000 tonnes a year of lithium carbonate, or lithium hydroxide, seeing as we’re now looking to use the LOH-Max process technology. The by-products of the plant are to be sold locally. We produce both SOP fertilizer and also an amorphous silica product, as well as the lithium chemical.
Jessica Amir: Wonderful. Now let’s talk about your strategy. Tell us about that and how it’s progressing.
Joe Walsh: Lepidico’s (ASX:LPD) strategy is relatively straightforward. Our objective is to become a vertically integrated lithium chemical company, from mine through to production of lithium chemical, in this case lithium hydroxide. And in so doing, demonstrate the commercial viability of our process technologies.
Jessica Amir: Thanks Joe. Now for a comment on your share price?
Joe Walsh: So 2018 was a challenging year for many lithium equities. The spot lithium price was under pressure. But I’m glad to say that Lepidico (ASX:LPD) in the second half of the year made a number of positive announcements, with the commitment to the pilot plant, and also more recently, the development of the LOH-Max technology. And I’m glad to say that shareholders that have invested in our last three capital raisings are all well in the money.
Jessica Amir: Just lastly Joe, is there anything else that you would like to add?
Joe Walsh: Lepidico is well funded for the development of the pilot plant in Western Australia, and also for the phase one plant feasibility study. And Lepidico offers a unique opportunity to get involved in the development of a new lithium chemical company.
Jessica Amir: Thank you so much for your time Joe Walsh.
Joe Walsh: Thank you Jessica.