This article was originally published by Mining.com on April 21, 2023 (link)
Summit Nanotech Corporation announced the opening of a facility in Santiago, Chile, with the goal to scale up the Canadian company’s denaLi direct lithium extraction (DLE) technology.
In a press release, the Calgary-based firm said that the inauguration of the new facility is a continuation of the 2022 deployment of the denaLi DLE pilot program with six lithium mining customers.
“Accessing local lithium resources allowed us to deliver strong pilot results that we can leverage with our new facility in Santiago,” Amanda Hall, CEO and founder of Summit Nanotech, said in a media statement. “Our commitment to consulting with community stakeholders and government to establish sustainable lithium development reinforces our decision to grow our operations in Chile.”
The launch of the new facility comes only hours after President Gabriel Boric unveiled a long-awaited national policy on lithium, which seeks to nationalize the country’s industry through a model in which the state will partner with companies to develop local industries.
It also coincides with the Canada Trade Mission to Chile aimed at supporting sustainable business opportunities in the cleantech sector.
“This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement. Summit Nanotech’s commercial solution addresses key components of the Trade Mission: clean energy and green mining. Minister Ng, our Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, values the opportunity to learn more about Summit’s technology,” Renee Plouffe, Trade Commissioner Embassy of Canada to Chile, said.
“We use advanced lithium-selective nanomaterials through our patented sorbent material to selectively pull the lithium from a brine solution resulting in a high-purity, high-yield lithium concentrate, Hall said. “Our sorbent limits the need for chemicals, a cost that adds financial and environmental impacts to today’s mining operations.”
Summit Nanotech’s CEO pointed out that a key component of the denaLi technology is the management of water, an issue that tends to be controversial in the places where lithium brine resources are found. The water that occurs in most of those areas, such as the Andean Puna, is scarce and yet critical to local ecosystems.
“Through our water recovery process, we reinject the brine with the non-lithium associated materials, back into the brine layer to maintain associated freshwater resources,” Hall noted.
“The small amount of water that is used is re-purposed and recycled back to the beginning of our process for pre-treatment and filtration.”
This process allows the denaLi DLE technology to shorten the lithium production time from 18 months to 1 day. It also allows for customization at the polishing and carbonation stage depending on the miner’s existing infrastructure.
In Hall’s view, the firm’s direct lithium extraction technology addresses most of the existing shortcomings associated with lithium production that uses brine evaporation ponds: a lengthy production time, large land use, damage to the natural aquifer and freshwater reserves, and the large chemical waste being produced.