Australia-based lithium-boron developer Global Geoscience (ASX: GSC) looks set to become a major player in the US for high-demand critical metals commodities, as the company enters the American market.
A pre-feasibility study (PFS) independently conducted by engineering firm Amec Foster Wheeler supports the development of a new Australian-backed $599 million lithium and boron mining and processing operation at the company’s 100%-owned Rhyolite Ridge property in Nevada.
The PFS, released this week, forecasts production to begin in 2021, and predicts at least a 30-year mine life, with the opportunity to extend and expand, producing 20,200 tonnes lithium carbonate and 173,000 tonnes boric acid per year. Boron has a number of industrial uses, including glass, ceramics and alloy.
Among the key findings are that Rhyolite Ridge could deliver its anticipated average output of 20,200tpa of battery-grade lithium carbonate and 173,000tpa of boric acid, at a cost of $1,796 per tonne of lithium carbonate. The PFS includes processing only high-grade, lithium-boron portion of the indicated resource, which totals 104.1 million tonnes at 0.9% lithium carbonate and 7.2% boric acid.
These numbers would make the dual revenue project a significant low-cost lithium producer in the United States and globally, and the largest lithium producer in the US.
Global Geoscince also released an updated Rhyolite Ridge mineral resource statement this week.
According to the statement, the south basin at Rhyolite Ridge is now estimated to total, at a 1,050ppm lithium cut-off, 475 million tonnes at 1,610 ppm lithium and 4,100 ppm boron (equivalent to 2.3% boric acid). The south basin contains 4.1 million tonnes of lithium carbonate and 10.9 million tonnes of boric acid.
The company is targeting first construction on the project for 2019’s fourth quarter.
In a statement, Global Geoscience’s managing director Bernard Rowe said with A$75 million in cash, the company is well funded through to a final investment decision.
“Importantly for our financing negotiations, Rhyolite Ridge is strategically located to major US and Asian markets at a time of limited alternative supply in the US of both lithium and boron – critical materials necessary for urbanisation and energy efficiency,” Rowe said. “The boron co-product will generate sufficient revenue to cover nearly all operating costs and thereby enable Rhyolite Ridge to be the lowest cost producer of lithium in the world.”
Drilling at Rhyolite Ridge is currently in progress.