AFRITIN said it would press ahead with the design and procurement of a pilot lithium beneficiation facility at its Uis tin mine in Namibia.
This followed the successful production of petalite concentrate grades in excess of 4% lithium oxide and with a purity that would enable the company to market the product commercially. Test work also supported production of tantalum concentrate.
Anthony Viljoen, CEO of Afritin, said this metallurgical test work confirmed the production potential of separate lithium and tantalum concentrates – a development that would boost the overall economics of the Uis mine.
“Implementation of these by-product streams could substantially transform the overall economics and unit cost of production for the current Phase 1 facility,” said Viljoen in a statement. “More importantly, it provides an outstanding platform for the future large-scale Phase 2 facility with a planned production capacity of more than 8 times the current facility,” he added.
AfriTin said in September it had tied up loan finance for the phase one expansion of the Uis pilot processing plant.
The expansion will take production to 1,200 tons a year of tin concentrate from a current capacity of about 720,000 tons annually. The expansion is expected to be commissioned in the second quarter of 2022, the company said.
Standard Bank Namibia agreed to provide a N$90m, about £4.5m, senior secured term loan which AfriTin said would be the first step in a long-term relationship as a second phase expansion of the Uis processing plant is contemplated.