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Goulamina lithium project, Mali – update

Location map of the Goulamina project

Photo by Leo Lithium

5th May 2023

By: Sheila Barradas

Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Name of the Project
Goulamina lithium project.

Location
Southern Mali, about 50 km west of Bougouni.

Project Owner/s
Firefinch subsidiary Leo Lithium and Chinese partner Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium.

Project Description
An update to the October 2020 definitive feasibility study (DFS) in December 2021 has confirmed the project as one of the world’s biggest lithium developments.

Stage 1 spodumene concentrate production is estimated at 506 000 t/y, increasing to a peak of 880 000 t/y in Stage 2. The DFS envisages a standard openpit mining operation.

The flowsheet will comprise:

  • three-stage crushing to a P80 of 6.2 mm, with a fine-ore bin and overflow dead stockpile;
  • closed-circuit ball milling and screening to an estimated P80 of 180 µm, based on a closing screen P100 of 212 µm;
  • two-stage magnetic separation;
  • three-stage flotation (roughing, cleaning and recleaning);
  • concentrate dewatering, filtration and storage;
  • separate flotation and process tailings thickening, with common tailings pumped to a tailings storage facility;
  • reagent mixing and distribution;
  • separate flotation and process water circuits; and
  • air services.

The DFS update proposes the construction of a 2.3-million-tonne-a-year throughput plant, incorporating in the design the infrastructure and equipment for the construction of a Stage 2 expansion to increase plant throughput to four-million tonnes a year.

The project is expected to have a minimum mine life of 23 years, producing 15.6-million tonnes of spodumene concentrate over that period.

Potential Job Creation
Not stated.

Net Present Value/Internal Rate of Return
The project has a pretax net present value, at an 8% discount rate, of $4-billion and an internal rate of return (real) of 97.8%.

Capital Expenditure
Leo Lithium has flagged a $30-million capital cost increase.

The company told shareholders in April that detailed engineering of the Stage 1 development, along with design optimisation, additional scope, and industry-wide inflationary pressures had resulted in the cost increase. The capital cost estimate of the project is now $285-million.

Leo Lithium DM Simon Hay has said that, after conducting a thorough review of the project's capital costs, expected capital increases were identified, owing to market conditions and an accelerated mining ramp-up. These include optimising the Stage 1 plant design to enhance the plant’s performance, making necessary scope changes for Stage 2 and responding to industry-wide inflationary pressures.

In addition, as the project increases the construction activities, the company has costed new plans associated with the operational readiness phase, which is focused on workforce readiness, the ramp-up of mining activities and the start of plant commissioning activities to produce first spodumene. This phase is now expected to cost an additional $33-million and is driven by a more comprehensive costed plan for commissioning spodumene production.

When combined with the revised cost to complete of $285million, the total project capital from the final investment decision to first production in the second quarter of 2024 is expected to be $318-million.

Planned Start/End Date
Firefinch expects to complete construction in early 2024 and commissioning in about mid-2024, with full production expected in 2025.

Latest Developments
A midterm review of the Goulamina lithium project has found that the project is on track to deliver its first spodumene by the second quarter of 2024.

The project is progressing as planned, with engineering and procurement nearing completion, on-site construction activities ramping up and mining activities to begin in June.

Leo Lithium has said that refinement of the initial mine plan reveals that 185 000 t of ore are surplus to the initial commissioning and ramp-up needs of the processing plant. This ore will be available for direct shipped ore (DSO) sales in 2023 and the first half of 2024.

The first shipment is scheduled for the fourth quarter of this year, with an upside case late in the third quarter. In total, 60 000 t to 90 000 t of shipments are planned for 2023, with the remaining DSO planned to be shipped in the first half of 2024. Should the plant commissioning be pushed out, additional ore will become surplus to requirements and available for DSO sales.

Joint venture (JV) partner Ganfeng Lithium Group has expressed interest in buying the DSO product, which is not covered in the existing spodumene offtake agreement, and pricing discussions have started. Leo Lithium has noted that some DSO parcels could also be offered to third parties.

Key Contracts, Suppliers and Consultants
Lycopodium (updated DFS, and engineering, procurement and associated project management services contract).

Contact Details for Project Information
Firefinch, tel +61 8 6149 6100 or email info@firefinchltd.com.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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