Nemaska Lithium Produces High Purity Lithium Hydroxide from Innovative Chemical Transformation Process

19 March 2012

QUÉBEC, CANADA--(Marketwire - March 19, 2012) - Nemaska Lithium Inc. ("Nemaska" or "the Corporation") (TSX VENTURE:NMX)(OTCQX:NMKEF) is pleased to announce the results from a multiple-phase pilot program performed at SGS Lakefield on a 58 tonne bulk sample taken from the Whabouchi lithium project. The program included single and multi-stage dense media separation (DMS), flotation, pyrometallurgy, and hydrometallurgy.

The objectives were:

  1. to produce both spodumene concentrate product and battery-grade lithium chemicals (hydroxide and carbonate) to specifications for evaluation by potential customers.

  2. to achieve a 6% Li2O spodumene concentrate for determining the feasibility of a stand-alone commercial concentrate production project.

Hydrometallurgy

Approximately 3 tonnes of combined DMS and flotation concentrate was calcined and acid-baked in a pilot plant kiln at FEECO International in Green Bay, Wisconsin for use as feed into a hydrometallurgical pilot plant at SGS Lakefield.

The hydrometallurgical pilot plant program demonstrated innovative departures from the standard flow sheet. High purity lithium hydroxide was produced directly from lithium sulphate. This process requires no reagent chemicals resulting in significant savings on the purchase of caustic soda that would be required with the traditional process. In addition, the process eliminates the evaporation, handling and disposal of sodium sulphate that would be produced in the traditional process. Capital costs of associated equipment are also saved. This completes the first phase of the hydrometallurgical pilot plant program. Lithium hydroxide samples have been sent to potential clients.

A laboratory scale process was successful in producing battery-grade lithium carbonate directly from the high purity lithium hydroxide produced in the first phase pilot plant. This innovative process does away with the need for expensive sodium carbonate (soda ash).

Mr. Guy Bourassa, President and CEO of Nemaska, commented: "We believe this is a ground breaking achievement in the chemical transformation of spodumene concentrate into battery grade lithium hydroxide. This is a value added product and, given the successful results to date, the company is currently evaluating the feasibility of building a lithium chemicals complex in the Province of Québec and becoming a producer of lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate. Presently the market for lithium hydroxide is expanding and the current world production capacity will not meet the expected increase in demand. It is important to note that lithium hydroxide is a premium product that sells for approximately $6,300 a tonne versus $5,300 a tonne for lithium carbonate and we have demonstrated that we can produce hydroxide at a lower cost. Furthermore, there is a limited number of hydroxide producers and clients are looking for an additional reliable source of supply as the demand continues to grow. Nemaska believes its production will be timed to meet the increase in demand as well as provide a reliable alternative source."

Spodumene concentrate

Spodumene concentrate was produced using a combination of DMS plus flotation pilot plant and an all-flotation option.

The study revealed the best flow sheet process was the DMS-flotation combination which yielded an average 6.3% Li2 O concentrate with more than 80% recovery. It should be noted that locked-cycle flotation tests on a blasted sample and a mine-representative composite yielded 6.5% Li2O concentrates with an 89% and 85% recovery respectively. A full plant scale recovery of up to 85% Li2O is thought to be possible.

The final process is still under review but will be included in the Definitive Feasibility Study on the production of spodumene concentrate presently being drafted by BBA Inc.

The technical information in this press release has been prepared by Gary Pearse, P. Eng., Geo. qualified person as defined in National Instrument 43-101.

About Nemaska

Nemaska Lithium is an exploration and development company involved in the James Bay region of Quebec. Nemaska intends to concentrate on the development of its Whabouchi lithium deposit and to conduct exploration work on its 100% owned Sirmac lithium project. The Whabouchi deposit is easily accessible year round by either the Route du Nord from Chibougamau (280 km) or the Route de la Baie James from Matagami (380 km) and is located near the Cree community of Nemaska and the Némiscau airport. Nemaska also owns 47.2% of its subsidiary Monarques Resources Inc. (TSX VENTURE:MQR).

The statements herein that are not historical facts are forward‐looking statements. These statements address future events and conditions and so involve inherent risks and uncertainties. Actual results could differ from those currently projected. The Corporation does not assume the obligation to update any forward‐looking statement.

Neither TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.