Canadian Mining Journal


Avalon, Rock Tech to build lithium process facility in Ontario

Avalon Advanced Materials and Rock Tech Lithium announced that they have plans to collaborate on the development of a lithium battery materials process facility in Thunder Bay, Ont. 

The facility would be designed to accept lithium mineral concentrates from Avalon’s Separation Rapids lithium project and Rock Tech’s Georgia Lake lithium project, as well as potentially other emerging new lithium mining operations in northern Ontario. The plan is to produce lithium sulphate, a precursor chemical for lithium-ion batteries. 

In a media statement, the companies said that following the announcement, they will design a process flowsheet that allows for the treatment of petalite, spodumene and potentially other lithium mineral concentrates. The product of the flowsheet will be lithium sulphate, which can either be shipped off-site or locally upgraded to lithium carbonate or lithium hydroxide.

Later on, they will conduct a piloting campaign using the flowsheet to prove the scalability of the process to industrial scale and feasibility level. Lastly, they plan to identify alternative applications for the byproduct of the process – high-purity aluminum silicate – in other industries such as the cement or ceramics industry.

“Northern Ontario has the potential to become a major producer of lithium-ion battery materials, including cobalt, nickel, graphite and manganese, and Thunder Bay is an ideal central location to serve as a hub for establishing these supply chains,” Avalon’s president and CEO, Don Bubar, said in the media brief. “Once established they can be the catalyst for the creation of a lithium-ion battery manufacturing business in Ontario, along with electric vehicle manufacturing, as recently announced by Premier [Doug] Ford.” 

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