The module will be a key component of the SuperLig Molecular Recognition Technology (MRT) pilot plant developed by IBC Advanced Technologies, Inc. (IBC) to demonstrate the green, direct extraction of lithium (Li) from brine at the Maricunga salt flat, or salar, in Chile.
The industrial-scale Lithium Production Project to recover Li from the Salar de Maricunga by SIMCO is a joint venture between Grupo Errazuriz (55%) and Taiwanese Simbalik Group (45%) in cooperation with Japanese company Chori.
The Lithium Investigation Center construction phase has already begun, and lithium recovery operations are expected to commence at the end of 2021 and produce commercial battery-grade LiOH during the first quarter of 2022. The Lithium Investigation Center is an initiative in Chile owned by the SIMCO Company developed in parallel with and by the approval of the Chilean Environmental Assessment Service of the Environmental Impact Study of the project “Production of Maricunga Salts.”
The SuperLig MRT process is chosen for the Project due to its very high selectivity for Li over other components of the brine, allowing the green, direct extraction of Li from brines using no solvents, just dilute acid, water and base.
The sustainability of the SuperLig MRT process is built on simplified infrastructure that is achieved by using modular units or skids that contain the equipment necessary to perform the Li separation. These small units make it possible to recover Li without the large number and variety of chemicals and the extensive superstructure used in current methods. The environmentally detrimental process of evaporating water from the salar is also avoided. The MRT system is flexible and adaptable to location requirements by adjusting the number of skids needed.
José Joaquín Matte, Manager of the new business, Errázuriz Group, highlighted the importance of this milestone for Chilean mining: “The Molecular Recognition Technology that we are implementing allow us to directly extract lithium in Chile by reinjecting the brine into the salars, with competitive operating costs and with a minimal impact on the environment. This technology is disruptive: it is green and environmentally friendly, does not require evaporation ponds and extracts 95% of the lithium contained in the brines. It will revolutionize the world lithium market.”
Steven R. Izatt, President and CEO, IBC, said: “The green technology revolution demands that lithium and other critical metals be produced in the most environmentally responsible way possible, taking into account all stakeholders. IBC is committed to providing advanced, highly selective separations technologies that prioritize environmental and societal concerns while maximizing economic return.”