Sayona considers restart of stand-alone lithium carbonate plant as early as 2026

North American lithium’s spodumene concentrator. Credit: Business Wire

Sayona Mining (ASX: SYA) has launched a definitive technical study for the restart of the stand-alone lithium carbonate plant at its flagship North American Lithium (NAL) mine and mill near Val d’Or, Quebec.

The project is operated by Sayona Quebec. Sayona Mining holds 75% of the Quebec subsidiary, and Piedmont Lithium owns the remaining 25%.

The lithium carbonate plant was partially built by a former owner. Completing the plant will move Sayona Quebec downstream processing for the North American battery industry.

The preliminary study has shown that the hydrometallurgical portion of the carbonate plant needs updating. Sayona says a sodium sulphate crystallizer and buffer tanks will need to be added to the original flowsheet.

The pyrometallurgical circuit also needs major upgrades, including the addition  of a feed preheating system, a rotary calcine cooler, a ball mill, modifications to the acid mixing circuit, and the addition of an acid bake kiln to replace the existing acid reactor.

A preliminary carbonate technical study was released as part of Sayona’s prefeasibility study for NAL earlier this year. The stand-alone plant was given a pre-tax net present value (8% discount) of C$2.9 billion ($2.2 billion) and an internal rate of return of 60%.

Total earnings before EBITDA for the 16-year project would amount to C$6.7 billion ($5bn). All-in sustaining costs per tonne of lithium carbonate are estimated to be C$15,996.

Production of battery-grade lithium carbonate could begin as early as 2026 using spodumene concentrate from the NAL mine.

Capital costs for the carbonate plant are estimated at C$555 million (including contingency) because much of the existing equipment and infrastructure do not need to be replaced.