The San Jose Lithium-Tin Project in Extremadura Region, Western Spain (San Jose) is a highly advanced, brownfields lithium development opportunity. With a recent JORC 2012 resource and Scoping Study building on a historic Feasibility Study reporting robust economic metrics.
Plymouth is in partnership with Valoriza Mineria S.A. (Valoriza Mineria), a wholly owned subsidiary of Sacyr S.A (Sacyr). A very large construction and engineering company with operations in multiple continents, Sacyr is listed on the Spanish stock exchange and has a market capitalisation in excess of $1 billion. Valoriza Mineria was formed in 2014 to provide the vehicle for Sacyr to access the mining industry in Spain.
A Scoping Study has been released for San Jose which shows a robust, long life, low cost lithium carbonate project which is ideally placed to deliver the battery grade lithium carbonate required to meet Europe’s burgeoning demand. San Jose Scoping Study economics based upon a 100% ownership basis;
This places San Jose favourably on the global cost curve for lithium carbonate production:
San Jose has now demonstrated its ability to delivery battery grade lithium carbonate (+99.5% Li2CO3) with production of +99.9% lithium carbonate, utilising the sulphate-roast, water leach flow sheet common to other European lithium developers. Compelling NPV and IRR returns using conservative lithium carbonate prices (half the current spot price) reinforce the economics of the project. Plymouth has now acquired a 50% interest in San Jose through the submission of a Mining Licence Application over San Jose and can now progress to a 75% interest through the completion of a Feasibility Study. Plymouth is targeting for this Feasibility Study to be delivered in Q4 of calendar year 2018.
The Project is located in the Extremadura region of Spain. Access by sealed, multilane highways takes approximately 2.5 hours by road from Madrid.
San Jose Project Location.
The Extremadura region is a rural area with a strong history and understanding of mining. Originally the project area was worked for tin in the early 20th century, more recently Lithium was discovered and an extensive development program was undertaken by the Spanish mining company, Tolsa S.A. The deposit enjoys numerous benefits such as adjoining power and gas pipeline infrastructure in addition to the plentiful availability of acid and limestone.
A feasibility study completed in 1991 defined an open pit mining operation and a process flow sheet which produced lithium carbonate. The deposit is unique due to its extensive strike, width and surface outcrop that make it highly amenable to bulk, open-pit style mining methods. Lithium mineralisation extends from surface to in excess of 300m vertically and in excess of 500m along strike.
Aerial photograph of tenement holding and project area.
Tolsa’s work on the deposit, between 1985 and 1991, included a comprehensive drilling program and wide ranging, detailed metallurgical work to produce a feasibility study that included a process flowsheet that could produce saleable lithium carbonate with good recoveries. Plymouth has purchased the historical data and reports produced by Tolsa. Plymouth is building on this knowledge base to fast track the development of the deposit.
Plymouth drilled a further 3,000m of RC and diamond drilling delivering a maiden JORC resource in May 2017. This resource contained in excess of 92Mt of mineralised material with in excess of 1.3 million tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent in JORC. This resource is shown below in Table 1.
An additional Exploration Target was quoted for 80-120Mt @ comparable grades. Drilling in 2017 post the JORC resource has returned significant grades and increased continuity of lithium mineralisation. This is expected to support an upgraded JORC resource. The deposit is open at depth and along strike with drilling and trench sampling st depth and along strike supporting the Exploration Target which is of equivalent size and grade to the current JORC resource.
Long section of resource extent and recent drilling at San Jose
Lithium at the San Jose project which is hosted in lithium-mica minerals. This style of mineralisation is common in China, Europe and North America as a feedstock for the production of lithium carbonate. Multiple operations in China (Specifically Shandong) treat lithium-bearing mica to produce battery grade lithium carbonate. Plymouth has built on the historical feasibility study and advanced work done by other groups to complete a Scoping Study for the treatment of lithium mica and the production of battery grade lithium carbonate using sulphate calcine (roast) processing. This is viable and low technical risk primarily due to the access of abundant natural gas transported adjacent to the project.
The process route chosen by Plymouth is;
- Beneficiation using gravimetric separation and flotation resulting in removal of 35% of waste with upgrading of lithium close to an equivalent amount
- Preferred process routes to obtain Lithium Carbonate shortlisted Potassium Sulphate and Sulphuric acid pathways with both delivering strong recoveries of lithium as 99.5% lithium carbonate.
Simplified process flowsheet
Plymouth has had international group, Dorfner Anzaplan conduct independent verification of the process flow sheet and its ability to produce battery grade lithium carbonate using typical, unbeneficiated, ROM ore. A purity of +99.9% was achieved and battery grade standards require +99.5% purity of lithium carbonate (Li2CO3). This process route is preferential as it requires less water input, reduces transportation in and around the mining area for reagent supply, and has a smaller operational footprint that alternative process routes such as sulphuric acid digest.
Plymouth has lodged a Mining Licence Application (MLA) over San Jose and earned a 50% interest in the JV. Plymouth can now proceed to a 75% interest through the completion of a Feasibility Study.