Canada’s Avalon Rare Metals (TSX:AVL) (NYSEMKT:AVL), until now mostly known for its incursion in the rare earths market, has kick off its $750,000 pilot plant program at the miner’s Separation Rapids lithium project, located near Kenora, Ontario.
The facility, said the company, will provide a trial of the new lithium minerals process flow sheet developed at the bench scale over the past year.
A total of 30 tonnes of crushed ore will be shipped to a laboratory in Germany for processing to produce a minimum of 1 tonne of pure lithium mineral (petalite) concentrate, Avalon added.
The company has been diversifying from rare earths as prices for the coveted elements — used in high-tech sectors — continue to drop due to overcapacity and illegal mining in China, the top producer.
The stock, however, has taken quite the hit. Only last week it lost over 26% in New York, and more than 17% in Toronto, ending Friday session in red amid volatile trading.
In addition to the Separation Rapids project, Avalon Rare Metals is also trying to reopen an old tin mine in Nova Scotia, and is working on its flagship Nechalacho rare earths project in the North West Territories.