Advanced Australian lithium developer Core Lithium (ASX: CXO) is pleased to announce the results of a Scoping Study which has identified a potential value improvement opportunity to the Finniss Lithium Project through production and sale of a Lithium Fines (LF) by-product grading approximately 1.0% Li2O. This is in addition to the “Stage 1 DFS and Updated Ore Reserves” (DFS) and “Scoping Study Confirms 10 Year Lithium Production” (ESS) releases announced earlier today.
- Core Lithium, in conjunction with consultant Primero Group, has successfully completed a Scoping Study on the potential for lithium fines (LF) to become a saleable by-product from the Finniss Lithium Project.
- The Study finds that Core could potentially produce and sell approximately 110,000tpa of LF grading approximately 1.0% Li2O, with no incremental mining activities required.
- Low incremental capital cost of A$8.4 million and marginal operating costs for processing, storage, haulage to port and ship loading of US$21/t of LF.
- Core has received non-binding interest from potential offtake partners for LF by-product, with indicative pricing between US$75- US$85/t (CFR).
- As a by-product credit, LF production potentially reduces life-ofmine average C1 operating costs by US$23/t of spodumene concentrate (versus Stage 1 DFS estimate).
- Potential to also reduce tailings stream and waste impact on the environment.
Pursuant to the Stage 1 DFS and ESS, the Finniss Project will comprise a low risk, standard open pit and underground mining operation and simple Dense Media Separation (DMS) processing plant, treating 1.0Mtpa of crushed ROM ore, to produce an average of approximately 175ktpa of 5.8% Li2O spodumene concentrate over a 10-year mine life.
The DMS flowsheet proposed in the Stage 1 DFS also produces a lithium fines content (<0.5mm) grading around 1.0% Li2O.
Metallurgical test work undertaken to-date indicates that the partial recovery of lithia from this tailings stream is possible efficiently and economically with limited additional processing steps.
Further work is required to better define the impact of mine dilution, the lithia deportment and grade by size fraction, but pending negligible mine dilution presenting to ROM ore and a similar crushed product particle size distribution to the test work sample, Core believes there is an opportunity to produce approximately 110,000 tonnes per annum of LF by-product grading circa 1.0% (w/w) Li2O.
In the Stage 1 DFS, the lithium fines are assumed to be stored with other tailings. However, in response to a forecast shortage of primary lithium supply and expressions of interest in offtake for the LF by-product, there is a strong opportunity for Core to capture the value of this by-product from existing Ore Reserves and Mineral Resources with no incremental mining cost and minimal incremental processing cost.
The economics of this opportunity are further assisted by the fact that Core’s Finniss Project is located within a 1 hour drive of the Port of Darwin, which is Australia’s closest port to Asian markets, keeping transport and logistics costs to a minimum.