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Volume 45 | Copyright
Adv. Geosci., 45, 1-5, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/adgeo-45-1-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  16 Jul 2018

16 Jul 2018

The Alvarrões-Gonçalo Li project: an example of sustainable lithium mining

Rui Sousa1, Violeta Ramos2, Alexandra Guedes2,3, Fernando Noronha2, Ana Botelho de Sousa1, Mário Machado Leite1, Reimar Seltmann4, and Alla Dolgopolova4 Rui Sousa et al.
  • 1Laboratório Nacional de Energia e Geologia, Rua da Amieira, Apartado 1089, S. Mamede de Infesta, Portugal
  • 2Institute of Earth Sciences, Pole Porto, University of Porto, Rua do Campo Alegre, 4169-007 Porto, Portugal
  • 3Department of Geosciences, Environment and Spatial Planning, Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto, Rua do Campo Alegre, 4169-007 Porto, Portugal
  • 4Natural History Museum, Department of Earth Sciences, CERCAMS, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK

Abstract. Across Europe, small scale deposits of critical materials and/or strategic elements, such as W, Li and Sn, are not viable to mine and process using the traditional large scale mining and processing technologies due to their geological characteristics. Project FAME (Flexible And Mobile Economic Processing Technologies, EC Horizon 2020 Grant Agreement No. 641650) was created in order to specifically address the technical and environmental challenges to the sustainable processing of low sulphide ores from pegmatites, greisens and skarns deposits. One of the deposits, Alvarrões-Gonçalo, is a Li pegmatite located at the Gonçalo pegmatite field (Central Portugal) that is being investigated on the scope of the concerned project. Currently, the pegmatites are only being exploited for ceramics, aggregates and ornamental purposes, however, there is exploitation potential for Li2O-rich ores. Froth flotation is being tested to produce a lepidolite concentrate. Results showed the feasibility to obtain a Li2O grade adequate for the metallurgical production of lithium compounds as Li2CO3. The lepidolite flotation rejects, normally stored in tailings dumps, are mainly composed by a mixture of feldspars, quartz and non-recovered lepidolite (though a very low content), which is, by itself, a very interesting raw material for ceramic purposes. Consequently, mining exploitation of lepidolite, as Li2O ore, from pegmatite could comply with the standards of green mining, reaching an almost zero waste exploitation, as it can be accomplished in the case of the mineral processing of the Alvarrões-Gonçalo lithium ore. This basic scenario could be improved by applying froth flotation also for feldspars/quartz separation, aiming at obtaining a high content feldspars concentrate (floated) and a quartz product (non-floated): the feldspars concentrate can be used to produce blends with different ratios feldspars/quartz for sanitary ware and tiles and quartz for other uses, such as glasses and silica flour.

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Froth flotation is being tested in Gonçalo pegmatites to produce a lepidolite concentrate. The flotation rejects are mainly composed by a mixture of feldspar, quartz and non-recovered lepidolite (very low content). The scenario could be improved by applying froth flotation also for feldspar/quartz separation: the feldspar concentrate can be used to produce sanitary ware and tiles and quartz for glass and silica flour, reaching an almost zero waste production.
Froth flotation is being tested in Gonçalo pegmatites to produce a lepidolite concentrate. The ...
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