PERTH (miningweekly.com) – A prefeasibility study (PFS) into the Finniss lithium project, in the Northern Territory, has estimated a preproduction capital requirement of A$53.5-million to develop a one-million-tonne-a-year operation producing 225 000 t/y of lithium concentrate.
ASX-listed Core Exploration on Monday said that the PFS is initially centered on production from the high-grade Grants deposit as an openpit mining operation, and the construction of a simple one-million-tonne-a-year dense media separation process plant.
This initial development is expected to register earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation of A$168-million over its 26-month life, a pre-tax net present value (NPV) of $140-million and an internal rate of return (IRR) of 142%, at a concentrate price of $649/t.
If the concentrate price increased to $895/t, the NPV will surge to A$246-million and the IRR will increase to 202%.
The PFS estimated an average operating cost of $279/t over the life of the project, and a pay-back period of 12 months.
Core told shareholders that the strong cash surplus provided by Finniss would ensure that the company was well placed with a first-mover advantage, and laid a solid foundation for the building of a long-term lithium production hub.
“The results of the PFS are highly encouraging and put the Finniss project on track to become the Northern Territory’s first producing lithium mine,” said Core MD Stephen Biggins.
“The PFS confirms Grants as a simple, but high value operation with minimal spend required on infrastructure, thanks to its simple mineralogy and location near Darwin port.
“With the successful PFS under our belt, we will now look to complete a definitive feasibility study on Grants before the end of the year, while also progressing our development initiatives at the adjacent BP33 deposit, which has considerable potential to further enhance the robustness of the Finniss project.”
A development decision on Finniss is expected in early 2019.