The method of processing jadarite ore developed by Rio Tinto will be performed in a modern, deep, underground and digitally networked mine, with innovative and sustainable process technology that is significantly more environmentally friendly than previously used, the company said tonight. processing of jadarite concentrate at temperatures below 100 degrees Celsius, which is the boiling point of water. This means that jadarite ore will not be treated with sulfuric acid at a temperature of 250 degrees, which is the case with other lithium ores in the world.
Rio Tinto in the vicinity of Loznica, as part of the Jadar project, is exploring the deposits of the mineral jadarite with the intention of opening a mine where it will process the ore from which lithium is obtained.
“Dissolution of jadarite ore at temperatures below 100 degrees is made possible by the characteristics of the ore itself and the process devised by Rio Tinto engineers, and not by using hydrofluoric acid, as some media experts say. Hydrofluoric acid will not be used in the jadarite processing process.” in a company statement.
Rio Tinto, reacting to public announcements about the technology of Jadarite ore processing and the use of sulfuric and hydrofluoric acid, stated that the processing will be performed in a deep underground mine that has a much smaller impact on the environment and people, while all other lithium mines in the world superficial.
According to the company’s interpretation, the preparation of ore for further processing is the first step, during which in the process of obtaining concentrate from jadarite ore, barren material (clay, carbonates) is discarded by crushing and wet grading. Jadarite concentrate goes to further processing, where it dissolves (by reaction with certain agents), after which the products are further obtained by separation in the crystallization process and precipitation.
“After the ore is converted into concentrate, which increases the level of useful substances needed for efficient processing, the concentrate will go to an industrial plant. The concentrate is often sold as such, but the new trend is vertical integration, and all new projects in the world will have and a processing plant from which the final products will come out – lithium.carbonate quality for the production of batteries for electric vehicles, boric acid, and sodium sulfate, “said Rio Tinto.
It was pointed out that it is crucial that their final product will be of the quality needed for the production of batteries, so that there will be no need for additional processing.
The ore concentrate, as explained, will not be aggressively treated with sulfuric acid, so this process does not create saturated water vapor containing traces of sulfuric acid, which was confirmed by pilot tests and numerous safety and hygiene checks in the work environment.
“There is no talk of evaporating sulfuric acid ‘by itself’, nor will steam come out of it to ‘fry everything around’. Although we will have state.of.the.art filters built in, the fact is that our process using sulfuric acid would work within legal limits. norms even without the presence of filters, ”claims Rio Tinto
The statement states that sulfuric acid, by the way, is one of the most represented industrial raw materials in the world, and the base of the modern chemical sector.
“It is an important and well.known chemical whose management has been conquered, safely and confirmed by thousands of examples. In Hamburg, practically in the city center on the river Elbe, there is a huge copper smelter that produces close to a million tons of sulfuric acid a year. up to 100,000 tons of acid, while the Jadar project will involve ten times smaller quantities, “said Rio Tinto.
It is added that most of the main technological operations in the jadarite processing process are common for hydrometallurgical processing plants, but that the uniqueness of Rio Tinto’s ore processing method is reflected in the fact that already well.known technological processes are integrated into one to produce three final products boric acid, lithium carbonate and sodium sulfate.
“The processing process itself was developed and tested over a period of four years in a pilot plant in Australia and verified by five independent audit commissions led by eminent international experts in various fields. Our processing technology is described in detail in the public patent application and it is completely incomprehensible that “There are still experts who claim that the company does not have a ‘conceptual solution’ for the technology,” Rio Tinto said in a statement.