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Goulamina lithium project, Mali – update

Location map of the Goulamina project

Photo by Leo Lithium

7th July 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 at Goulamina.

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 construction activities increase, 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
Leo Lithium has produced its first direct shipping ore (DSO) material.

First revenue from DSO is on track to be received during the fourth quarter, and Leo Lithium expects the export of DSO ore for six to nine months in advance of spodumene production. On an annualised basis, the company is targeting 185 000 t of DSO exports until spodumene production starts.

Spodumene production is currently targeted for the first half of 2024.

“The early startup of the openpit mining operations at Goulamina via DSO is a positive milestone that positions the company to crystalise long-term benefits,” MD Simon Hay has said.

The DSO also presents an opportunity for Leo Lithium to optimise its logistics solution as it scales up at Goulamina, further derisking the project’s development.

The first blast on site was initiated earlier in June, with initial DSO mining activities focusing on the Stage 1 starter pit, which contains 1.65-million tonnes of measured resource.

Leo Lithium has indicated that trucking contractors for the DSO are set to be appointed shortly, as will the offtake process for the DSO material.

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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