Lithium and boron can be readily leached from the Rhyolite Ridge host rock using dilute sulphuric acid, which differentiates Rhyolite Ridge from other sediment-hosted lithium deposits. This is due to the low-clay, low-carbonate and high-searlesite (boron) content of the rock. Leaching with be done in vats to allow for temperature control and resulting in maximized recoveries and recycling of materials.
Due to our ability to process the lithium and boron in this way, there will be no evaporation ponds or tailings dam at Rhyolite Ridge – leading to a comparatively small quarry footprint. Rhyolite Ridge’s processing facilities will include a sulfuric acid plant and steam turbine. This will allow the Company to produce sufficient electricity to power its entire operation, meaning zero reliance on the Nevada electrical grid and minimal use of fossil fuels to produce needed electricity. Electricity generated in this manner produces minimal CO2 emissions, minimal air pollutants, and is considered green cogenerated power.
Ioneer and its partners have spent thousands of hours of bench and pilot plant test work related to the Project’s process flowsheet. Based on these efforts, the Project’s engineering team designed the facilities using known and commercially proven technology to accommodate the unique Rhyolite Ridge ore. The primary reagents used in lithium and boric acid production are 1) liquid sulphur, 2) soda ash, 3) lime and 4) fuel.
Key process operations are described below: