Against the continuous hype around Western Australia’s booming lithium sector, another story is brewing over the State line.
With the likes of Pilbara Minerals edging closer towards production at its Pilgangoora operation in the Pilbara, Altura Mining’s adjacent project that goes by the same name passing development milestones, Tawana Resources’ Bald Hill mine in the Goldfields that recently began producing lithium and the established Greenbushes mine in the South West operated by Talison Lithium, you could be forgiven for thinking Western Australia is the only State in Australia prospective for good-news lithium stories.
But that is definitely not the case. Over the fence, WA’s neighbours in the north have been quietly working up what could potentially be the territory’s first producing lithium mine.
Adelaide-based Core Exploration (ASX: CXO) holds full ownership of its Finniss Lithium Project, located 80km from Darwin Port in the Northern Territory and linked via bitumen road.
The project area covers more than 200 square kilometres and 25 historic pegmatite mines, including the Bynoe pegmatite field and the Mount Finniss tin-tantalum mine.
Core has been actively developing the project and, ahead of completion of a pre-feasibility study on the project, last week released RC and diamond drilling results that revealed multiple new high-grade lithium intersections.
Amongst those results was 41.1m at 1.77% lithium oxide from 71.3m.
To put things in perspective, the lithium grade of the hard-rock spodumene deposits in the Pilbara is largely in the 1.2-1.4% mark.
As the dry season in the NT draws near, Core will be undertaking exploration and resources expansion drilling programs across several high priority targets within Finniss.
With the pre-feasibility Study due in coming months based on a staged development plan, Core is anticipating first production from Finniss before the end of next year which, at this stage, would make it the first lithium-producing operation in the NT.
“Core is progressing the regulatory and feasibility steps to drive the Finniss project through development and into production,” Core managing director Stephen Biggins said.
“In parallel, aggressive exploration and resource drilling programs are planned in 2018 to increase the project resource base to support long-life spodumene production from its large tenement holding located near grid power, gas and rail infrastructure and the skills and services of Darwin.
“The capital city of Darwin also provides an ideal industrial, infrastructure and transport hub for potential downstream processing of lithium products as the electric vehicle and lithium battery industry continues to expand into the future.”