Rio Tinto starts a demonstration plant for the concentration of lithium in Quebec

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(Kitco News) – On Thursday, Rio Tinto announced that it had started producing concentrate of spodumene, a mineral used in the production of lithium for batteries, at a demonstration plant at its Quebec operations Rio Tinto Iron and Titanium ( RTIT).

The company said the plant will demonstrate on an industrial scale a new spodumene concentration process that provides lithium oxide (Li20) grades and recoveries well above the industry average, adding that this process offers the environmental advantage of not using chemicals and of generating only dry materials, inert residues.

RTIT Managing Director Stéphane Leblanc said: “Rio Tinto is exploring new sustainable ways to extract materials from batteries for the energy transition. We are seeing strong market interest in a North American supply of spodumene concentrate to support lithium battery production.

“Our demonstration plant will allow us to further validate the innovative spodumene concentration process developed at our Critical Minerals and Technology Center as we plan to scale up to commercial scale production.”

The demonstration plant was commissioned in June after successful laboratory tests of the new process and produced its first tonne of spodumene concentrate in July 2022, Rio Tinto said.

The company noted that the plant will test ore from various local suppliers, including Sayona, an emerging lithium producer with projects in Quebec and Western Australia.

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