Australian lithium miner Core Lithium (ASX: CXO) has approved up to $50 million expenditure for early works for the BP33 underground project – the second proposed mine at the Finniss Lithium Operation near Darwin in the Northern Territory.
- Early works funding of $45-50 million approved for BP33
- Northern Territory based contractor NAC Civil appointed to undertake early works
- Final BP33 project scope and capital cost estimate to be determined using the recently announced increased Mineral Resource of 10.1Mt at 1.48% Li2O
- Final Investment Decision for BP33 expected by end Q1 CY24
Core said that development of BP33, located 5km from the Dense Media Separation (DMS) plant, was in line with its strategy to develop Finniss via several satellite deposits within trucking distance of the DMS plant located at the Grants Mine Operation.
Early works for BP33 underground will include the covered box cut, improved access and some associated surface works for water management.
The capital approved for these works is $45 million to $50 million. This updates earlier estimates presented in September 2022 for early works.
Subject to potential early wet season, modelled geotechnical and groundwater impacts, this work is expected to be complete by end of Q1 CY24.
This approach allows a detailed feasibility study to be completed in parallel and enable mine decline development to begin soon after a positive final investment decision (FID).
These early works have been approved based on the 2022 Mineral Resource model for BP33. In March 2023, Core announced it had increased its Mineral Resources by 131% to 10.1Mt at 1.48% Li2O.
Final capital expenditure, development and production timing for the BP33 underground mine will be completed following further studies that include the new BP33 resources, further metallurgical test work, additional geotechnical studies, mine sequencing options and cost estimates associated with a potentially extended mine area.
FID for BP33 will be made once this work is completed and expected Q1 CY24.
Following completion of the early works and subject to a positive FID and board approval to proceed with the BP33 underground mining operations, subsequent work required before BP33 ore production commences is expected to include decline development, early stope development, ventilation infrastructure, water management and power infrastructure and further civil site works.
The contract for the early works civil construction has been awarded to Northern Australian Civil (NAC), a Darwin-based contractor with prior box-cut development experience.
Core Lithium CEO Gareth Manderson said:
“We are pleased to announce this positive, incremental investment decision that allows initial works to be undertaken while the feasibility study is completed for BP33, our potential next mine at the Finniss Lithium Operation.
“Core would like to acknowledge the support of the Government of the Northern Territory. We have been able to bring on the Finniss operations at a time in the market when it can deliver benefits for the NT and all its stakeholders due to the professional and efficient processes for approvals. The BP33 approval is another example of this.
“I am pleased the civil works contract has been awarded to a successful locally based business, Northern Australian Civil. NAC currently provides civil construction activities at Grants Operations and is a fantastic local contracting partner which employs local Darwin and NT residents and invests back into the Territory.
“We will continue focus on the safe ramp up of the Grants open pit and concentrate production through the DMS plant.
“We will aim to provide final project expenditure and other project metrics once we have incorporated the increased resources into our studies by Q1 CY24.”