JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – ASX-listed Sayona Mining has started a definitive feasibility study (DFS) for the Authier lithium project, in Canada, after an optimised prefeasibility study (PFS) reiterated “excellent returns”.
The PFS, incorporating an updated ore reserve and mineral resource, estimated low start-up capital expenditure (capex) of C$64-million and C$110-million over the 17-year life-of-mine with a yearly average concentrate production of 96 000 t at 6% lithium oxide (Li2O).
The study found that the project had a pre-tax net present value (NPV) of C$221-million and a pre-tax internal rate of return (IRR) of 56%.
“The PFS confirms the technical and financial viability of constructing a simple, low-strip ratio, opencut mining operation and processing facility producing spodumene concentrate,” Sayona CEO Corey Nolan said on Monday.
The initial PFS estimated a capital investment of C$66-million to deliver some 99 000 t/y of spodumene, based on a maiden ore reserve of 10.2-million tonnes, at 1.02% Li2O.
Initially, it was expected the project would have a pre-tax NPV of C$140-million and a pre-tax IRR of 39%.
The company also updated its ore reserve to 11.66-million tonnes at 1.03% Li2O, with a proven reserve of 5.59-million tonnes at 0.99% Li2O and probable reserves of 6.07-million tonnes at 1.06% Li2O over a 17-year mine life.
“The company is now working towards completing a DFS, mining licence applications, offtake contracts and financing in 2018. This will enable construction of the project to commence in the second half of 2018, subject to receiving all the development permits,” said Nolan.
The DFS is expected to be completed in early 2018.
Further, a phase-three drilling programme has started for the collection of a large sample for pilot metallurgical testing and further optimisation of the resource and reserve.