In the November 2019 edition of CIM Magazine, in their article “Specialty minerals and metals project development”, David Anonychuk and Jane Spooner tout the importance of securing a stable supply of specialty industrial minerals such as lithium, cobalt, graphite, nickel and vanadium given the expected growth in lithium ion batteries and energy storage applications.
Other specialty minerals and metals such as high-purity quartz, high-purity alumina, rare earth elements and scandium, will also be required as they are integral to the performance of the final end-use application, such as high-intensity magnets, high-performance alloys and semi-conductor materials.
Unlike precious metals and base metals, products for specialty end-use applications are characterized by much more than a simple percentage to represent their chemical purity. Particle size distribution and particle shape are as important as carbon grade or lithium grade in graphite or spodumene. Equally important are the impurities in parts per million, which define the acceptability of processed products such as lithium hydroxide or cobalt sulphate for use in batteries. In order to make the assessment of whether a deposit is economically extractable, metallurgical testwork to identify potential end-use applications has to start at an early stage of exploration and go beyond simple chemical analysis.
Successful project development always needs an experienced workforce, engineering and technical staff as well as capable and qualified analytical laboratories. The difference in the specialty mineral and metal sector is that knowledge and experience is similarly specialist and often requires familiarity of very specific processes and equipment details.
Specialty minerals and metals project development
CIM Magazine, November, 2019, pp. 34-35.
To read the full article online, please click here.