Twin studies by advanced Australian lithium developer Core Lithium have shown a 159 per cent increase in ore reserves at its wholly-owned Finniss Project – doubling the projected Life of Mine (LOM) through underground mining at its BP33 and Carlton deposits alongside open pit mining at its Grants deposit.
Finniss’ total ore reserves now stand at 5.7 million tonnes, supporting a 7-year LOM, with the prospect of achieving closer to a 10-year mine life when considering the project’s potential resource inventory. Previous studies had confirmed at least 3-5 years of lithium concentrate extraction from open pit mining at the Grants deposit, situated 25km south of Darwin.
The increase was confirmed via an Underground Pre-Feasibility Study conducted in parallel to a Scoping Study, which enabled Core to confidently assess the true project potential and help direct immediate resource conversion and resource extension drilling efforts across its sites.
The studies examined underground mining of the mineral resources for the Grants, BP33 and Carlton deposits. The deposits are located within a 3km radius and all ore would be trucked to the Grants processing plant before fulfilling offtake agreements overseas.
Core’s Managing Director, Stephen Biggins, said the increases in reserves and mine life allows the company the chance to leverage the Finniss Project’s strength of location and production capacity to fully embrace infrastructure such as grid connection to power.
“The updates – along with other key inputs – will be used to update Finniss’ complete Feasibility Study as we move towards a Final Investment Decision (FID) and our goal of being construction-ready later this year.”
The resource increases follow in quick succession of more positive news for Core, including regulatory project approval in April from the NT Government and the signing of Core’s first European Offtake MOU with Geneva-based Transamine for 50,000tpa. This is in addition to an existing binding offtake for 75,000tpa with one of China’s largest lithium producers, Szechuan Yahua.
“The downstream lithium battery supply chain and project financiers have recognised the significance of our recent regulatory approvals and the now extended feasible production capacity,” Mr Biggins said.
Importantly, while the LOM of the Finniss Project has doubled, Core will not require substantial increases to the start-up capital to move ahead.
“We expect to be engaging with project financiers in the second half of 2020 to reach FID and we are well engaged with a number of parties globally for the remaining offtake of Core’s high-quality lithium concentrate.
“In the context of the substantial increases, coupled with additional demand for offtake, Core is also likely to consider expanding production and revenues from the Finniss Project above the current concentrate production capacity of 175,000tpa,” he concluded.