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Kathleen Valley lithium/tantalum project, Australia – update

Image of lithium

Photo by Liontown Resources

13th January 2023

By: Sheila Barradas

Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Name of the Project                                    
Kathleen Valley lithium/tantalum project.

Location
North-east Goldfields of Western Australia.

Project Owner/s
Lithium developer Liontown Resources.

Project Description
A definitive feasibility study (DFS) has confirmed the potential to develop a state-of-the-art, second-generation lithium/tantalum mining and processing operation.

The DFS optimises the mine schedule, process plant design and forecast sales pricing to enhance the technical and financial viability of a standalone, long-life, four-million-tonne-a-year operation.

The project has an ore reserve of 68.5-million tonnes grading 1.34% lithium oxide and 120 parts per million tantalum pentoxide, underpinning an initial estimated 23-year mine life, based on the updated mining schedule.

Building on the October 2020 prefeasibility study (PFS), the DFS base production has been increased from two-million tonnes a year to 2.5-million tonnes a year, producing about 500 000 t/y of spodumene concentrate, with a four-million-tonne-a-year expansion planned in Year 6 to deliver about 700 000 t/y spodumene concentrate.

Potential Job Creation
Not stated.

Net Present Value/Internal Rate of Return
The project has an after-tax net present value, at a real 8% discount rate, of A$4.2-billion and an internal rate of return of 57%, with a payback of 2.3 years.

Capital Expenditure
In June 2022, Liontown flagged a cost increase in the project from the A$473-million estimated in the 2021 DFS to A$545-million.

Planned Start/End Date
First production is expected to start in the first half of 2024.

Latest Developments
Liontown Resources struck a binding power purchase agreement (PPA) with independent power producer Zenith Energy in December 2022 to supply electricity to the Kathleen Valley project.

Zenith Energy will finance, design, construct, own, operate and maintain a 95 MW hybrid power station at Kathleen Valley for an initial term of 15 years from commercial operation of the hybrid power station, which is expected to coincide with the commissioning of the process plant in the first half of 2024.

The hybrid power station will include wind generation from five wind turbines each capable of generating 6 MW. A 16 MWp fixed axis solar photovoltaic array coupled to a 17 MW/19 MWh battery energy storage system will provide additional clean energy, supported by highly reliable synchronous condensers that provide critical system stability and resilience. The thermal power component will comprise 27 MW of gas generation and 5 MW of diesel standby generation.

Meanwhile, Zenith Energy has progressed the necessary planning, legal, engineering and design works, as well as placing orders for long-lead items, each of which is required to facilitate the delivery of the hybrid power station in line with the Kathleen Valley project schedule.

Liontown has also secured approval for a A$25-million guarantee facility from Export Finance Australia as part of the security package under the PPA, which will underpin the timely construction of the hybrid power station at Kathleen Valley.

Provision of the facility is subject to several conditions, which are customary for facilities of this nature, and finalisation of facility agreements.

Key Contracts, Suppliers and Consultants
ZOOID (environmental, social and governance); Optiro (geology and mineral resources estimate); Snowden Mining Industry Consultants (mine optimisation, planning, design and scheduling); ALS Metallurgy (process testwork); Lycopodium Minerals (process and infrastructure design, capital and operating expenditure); Knight Piésold (tailings and hydrogeology); MBS Environmental (environmental studies); Peter O’Bryan and Associates (geomechanical engineering); Metso-Ouotec (design, fabrication and delivery of a semiautogenous grinding mill); Lycopodium Minerals (engineering, procurement and construction management); and Zenith Energy (hybrid power station – design, build, own, operate and maintain).

Contact Details for Project Information
Liontown Resources, tel +6 8 6186 4600 or email info@ltresources.com.au.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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