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Kathleen Valley lithium/tantalum project, Australia – update

Image of lithium from the Kathleen valley/tantalum project

Photo by Liontown Resources

24th March 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
Liontown flagged a cost increase in the project in January 2023, reporting a new capital cost estimate of A$895-million. The new price tag, which includes a A$40-million contingency, compares with the June 2022 forecast of A$545-million and the 2021 DFS estimate of A$473-million.

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

Latest Developments
Liontown Resources is evaluating sale of direct shipping ore (DSO) at its Kathleen Valley project as an opportunity for early cash generation.

Liontown COO Adam Smits has reported that DSO material is being stockpiled at site, as part of openpit operations, which started earlier this year.

“I think at least a dozen samples have gone out and there is a lot of interest in this DSO product. It is not part of the reserve, but opportunities in the DSO market have presented themselves and we now have a decent team that can respond to those opportunities,” Smits has said.

He has noted, however, that the DSO opportunities will not derail Liontown from its larger target of starting lithium concentrate production by mid-2024.

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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