Prospect Lithium Zimbabwe (PLZ) is developing the Arcadia open-pit lithium project near Harare, Zimbabwe. Prospect Resources holds 87% stake in PLZ, while the remaining interest is free carried to production.
The open-pit project, regarded as one of the world’s biggest hard rock lithium resources, was granted the National Project status by the Zimbabwe Government in October 2017.
PLZ anticipates producing an average of 212,000 tonnes (t) of 6% spodumene concentrate, 216,000t of petalite concentrate, and 188,000 pounds (lbs) of tantalum per annum from Arcadia. The project is estimated to have a mine life of 12 years.
Pre-feasibility study (PFS) of the project was completed in July 2017, while the definitive feasibility study (DFS) was completed in November 2018. The lithium project broke ground in December 2018 and is expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2020. It is expected to be commissioned from November 2020.
Arcadia open-pit lithium project location, geology, and mineralisation
The Arcadia lithium project is situated approximately 38km east of Harare and extends over an area of 9km².
The project hosts greenstone rock units of Arcturus formation, a member of the Harare Greenstone Belt (HGB). It is housed within a series of stacker, petalite-spodumene bearing pegmatities, with an average thickness of 15m, in the HGB. The pegmatities extend up to 2.5km along strike.
The mineralisation at the Arcadia deposit is predominantly made up of petalite and spodumene, while the secondary minerals are eucryptite, bikitaite, lepidolite, and tantalite.
Arcadia open-pit lithium project reserves
The proven and probable reserves of the Arcadia lithium project are estimated to be 26.9Mt. Contained mineral is estimated to be 351,000 tons of lithium oxide (Li2O) grading 1.31% and 7.6 million pounds (Mlbs) of Ta2O5.
Mining and ore processing at Arcadia lithium project
The Arcadia open-pit lithium project will be developed in two phases. The first includes the construction of the mine and concentrator followed by further expansion in the second phase.
Conventional open-pit mining method will be used at the project. The ore will be processed at the 2.4Mtpa processing plant. Mining is proposed to be conducted in six pit phases, along with two satellite pits.
The ore will be processed using conventional beneficiation techniques, including gravity-based processes of dense media separation (DMS). The ore will undergo four-stage processing to achieve a sub-3mm crush size, which is ideal to achieve adequate liberation of petalite for primary recovery by DMS. Multi-stage spirals will be used to further recover the petalite.
The resultant material will be sent to the flotation circuit, following gravity recovery, for spodumene recovery. The spodumene concentrate will be dried and packed into bags and weighed after filtering.
Tantalite will also be recovered as rough concentrate through the application of wet high-intensity magnetics separation (WHIMS). It will be upgraded to a saleable product containing approximately 25% Ta2O5 by the use of conventional wet shaking tables.
The tantalite product will be packed into 200-litre steel drums and sealed after drying and finally shipped. The petalite products will be stacked to allow drainage and partial air-drying prior to being packed into bulk bags and weighed.
The Arcadia lithium project can be reached through the main A2 Harare to Mozambique highway or the main A3 Harare to Mutare highway.
Power supply for the project is proposed to be made from the nearby 33kVA national power grid, while surface and groundwater is readily available at the project site.
The surface water for the mine will be collected from the main catchment, with a spatial coverage of more than 9.18 million square metres.
African Continental Minerals agreed to supply power to the project from its Coalbed Methane Gas to Power Project, in August 2019, under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with Prospect Resources.
Prospect Resources and Sinomine International Exploration entered an off-take agreement, in November 2017, for the supply of 390,000t of spodumene concentrate and 1.097Mt of petalite concentrate from Arcadia.
BioMetallurgical Zimbabwe (BMZ) prepared the Arcadia project’s PFS with support from several independent consultants such as Digital Mining Services, MSA Group, Practara, and McDhui Mining Services.
The participants group also includes Blonton Management Consultants, Envirosmart Consultancy, and LogiProc and Consulmet.
Prospect prepared the DFS of the project with support from consultants including ADP Marine & Modular (ADP), Norconsult, and DRA Global.
J.R. Goddard (JRG) was engaged as the earthmoving contractor for the Arcadia lithium project.