Lithium lowdown: Q4 2023 roundup and analysis

Evaporation ponds in northern Chile. (Image by: freedom_wanted | AdobeStock.)

A critical review of developments in the global lithium industry during the fourth quarter 2023 and key takeaways by Chris Williams, Analyst at Adamas Intelligence.

Livent invests in EnergySource Minerals DLE technology ILiAD

Livent announced it has acquired a minority stake in ILiAD Technologies’ parent company, a subsidiary of EnergySource Minerals. The companies did not disclose financial details of the deal. 

The ILiAD absorption DLE technology has been under development for seven years, principally for the Salton Sea geothermal resources in California. Livent will have the right to license ILiAD at its Hombre Muerto operation in Argentina where commercial utilization could begin as early as 2025. Livent is also reviewing opportunities to apply it elsewhere within its portfolio.  

As previously forecasted by Adamas, M&A in the 3rd party DLE space is gaining momentum. The move is particularly fascinating when considering Livent’s 25-year history with absorption DLE. A closer look into Livent’s operational metrics reveals deficiencies in their water, energy and carbon footprint. This possibly explains why we’re seeing this deal today.

Bolivia signs $450m deal with Russia’s Uranium One

Bolivian state’s YLB has signed a deal with Russia’s Uranium One to the tune of $450 million.

The funds will be used over several years to build a pilot plant at the Uyuni salar. 

The initial scale will be 1 ktpa lithium carbonate before eventually scaling up to 14 ktpa. 

A tangible development in Bolivia’s long-awaited entrance into lithium production. The mammoth lithium reserves at Uyuni will undoubtedly require significant technical work, given their challenging brine characteristics and elevation. 

Winsome Resources releases long awaited maiden MRE at Adina

Winsome Resources announced this week a maiden Mineral Resource estimate (MRE) for its Adina project in Quebec, Canada.

The MRE stands at 58.5 Mt grading 1.12% Li2O (100% inferred) using a 0.6% cut-off. The resource is based on 27,600m of drilling along a 1.3km strike length at 100 x 100m spacing. 

A separate 25,000m of results are being assayed with an MRE update expected in H1 2024. The company also expects to undertake a further 50,000m drill program in 2024. Five drill rigs are currently on-site conducting infill and extensional drilling along the full 3.1 km strike of identified spodumene mineralization. 

The drill program has been exceptionally efficient, yielding 2.14 Mt/km. The results solidify Adina as a premier North American hard rock deposit worth paying attention to in 2024. The two pegmatites identified at Adina are adjacent to one another, thick, high grade and near surface which offer attractive open pit potential. 

Volt Lithium releases Rainbow Lake PEA

Volt Lithium released its PEA for the Rainbow Lake oil field brine project in Alberta, Canada, this week.

The company envisions a three-phase 1 / 5 / 23 ktpa LiOH DLE operation over a 19-year life of mine. The study features the company’s proprietary DLE process which has undergone pilot scale testwork. 

Total CAPEX required is $1.5 billion (including 10-15% contingency) while operating costs range from $3,276/t to $4,454/t LiOH ($3,722/t to $5,165/t LCE). Volt has also entered into a capital expenditure recovery program and cost sharing arrangement with a private oil and gas company which features in the project economics. Using a flat price of $25,000/t LiOH the NPV8% post-tax comes in at $1.1 billlion. 

With average grades of 49 – 92 mg/L Li, it is easy to be skeptical of the low operating costs featured in this PEA (though the cost estimates are class 5 which encompasses a +50% uncertainty margin). The purported synergies with a 3rd party E&P company are also an intriguing feature worth paying attention to as more details emerge. 

Arizona Lithium adds 0.6 Mt LCE to Prairie MRE

Arizona Lithium this week announced an update to their Mineral Resource estimate (MRE) at the Prairie project in Saskatchewan, Canada.

By appending more land packages, 0.6 Mt LCE was added onto their resource base for a total of 6.3 Mt LCE at 105 mg/L Li concentration (71% in the inferred category). 

The company is preparing a PFS due for release this month which will feature the company’s proprietary ion exchange resin. 

The news is unlikely to have a material impact to the project economics which should be revealed next month. 

Atlas Lithium secures $50m funding for Minas Gerais project

Atlas Lithium has received commitment of funding from China’s Chengxin and Yahua for $50 million, it announced this week. Funds will be used to construct Phase 1 of the Minas Gerais project in Brazil. 

$10 million will be placed as new equity at a 10% premium to recent VWAP, while $40 million will be product prepayment. The funding is in exchange for 80% offtake of Phase 1’s 150 ktpa spodumene concentrate output, split equally between the two parties.

The company is scoping out a modular dense media separation (DMS) concentrator design. A maiden resource and PEA is yet to be announced, although targeted for Q1 2024, while a DFS for Phases 1 & 2 (300 ktpa) is targeted for Q2 2024.  

This funding is very encouraging for one of the fastest development stories we’ve seen. However, hand-in-hand with speed to market is pronounced design and execution risks which the company will need to tightly manage going forward.

Green Technology Metals releases PEA and obtains ML

Green Technology Metals released PEA results for the Seymour/Root project in Ontario, Canada this week. The company also announced it has received the project’s Mining Lease.

The phased development starts with Seymour’s $212 million DMS-only plant producing ~207 ktpa of 5.5% Li2O concentrate. Root’s $350 million DMS & Flotation plant would extend this production rate out for a total of 15 years. LOM operating costs are calculated at $938/t SC5.5. Using a weighted average price of $2,029/t SC5.5 FOB Thunder Bay, the NPV8% comes in at U$892 milllion. 

An optional $798 million chemical plant was scoped at Thunder Bay which could produce 24,400 tpa LiOH. The plant adds an incremental NPV8% of $238 million. 

The company looks to accelerate the project’s development with a DFS and possible FID planned in 2024. 

Having to build two separate concentrators for a 15-year project weighs heavily on capital efficiency metrics. Further, operating costs are relatively high, owing to such factors as location, a 21.1 strip ratio and 1.09% Li2O average grade. 

Latin Resources adds 18.3 Mt to Colina deposit MRE

Latin Resources announced this week an updated Mineral Resource estimate (MRE) for the Salinas project in Minas Gerais province, Brazil.

18.3 Mt was added to the principal Colina deposit, which now sits at 63.5 Mt grading 1.3% Li2O. 41 Mt are now contained within M&I categories, up from 30 Mt. 

In addition, a separate deposit known as Fog’s Block was defined at 6.8 Mt grading 0.9% Li2O. The project’s global MRE now sits at 70.28 Mt grading 1.27% Li2O. 

Drilling is ongoing with 16 diamond drill rigs, as the company looks to define Mineral Reserves. DFS is targeted for completion in mid-2024. 

The Colina deposit appears to be mostly tapped out in terms of scale. As such, resource growth is dependent on prospects along strike. To this end, an aggressive 16x rigs will be used for infill drilling prior to the DFS, while some highly prospective targets offer upside potential. 

Power Minerals releases PEA for its Rincon DLE project

Power Minerals released the PEA results for its Rincon project in Salta province, Argentina. The project employs SunResin DLE technology to extract ~7,000 tpa Li2CO3 over 14 years from its 292 kt LCE resource. 

The estimated CAPEX came in at $216.55 million with an operating cost of $7,786/t Li2CO3. Using an average lithium carbonate price of $27,600/t the NPV10% post-tax came in at ~$309 million.  

The operating costs are in the upper percentiles relative to DLE competitors, even much higher than competing Latin American companies looking at using SunResin. It is possible the especially rural location of the project is probably driving this, and/or the high sulphate contained in the brine.

Vulcan Energy launches €40 million DLE optimization plant

Vulcan Energy launched its Lithium Extraction Optimization Plant in Germany last week.

The plant tests the brine-to-LiCl intermediate DLE flowsheet which was designed and refined from earlier pilot plants. The purpose of the plant is to optimize operational parameters, train staff and for product qualification. 

The plant uses absorption-type DLE technology on a geothermal brine resource containing 181 mg/L Li. After power generation and DLE steps, reverse osmosis concentrates eluate prior to purification steps which includes ion exchange and crystallization of select impurities. 

The product is a 40% lithium chloride which proceeds to a separate electrolysis and crystallization process to create lithium hydroxide. 

The operational readiness of advanced DLE projects such as ZCL might catch some observers off guard as projects ramp in coming years. 

SQM acquires 20% stake in French DLE company, Adionics

The world’s largest lithium producer, SQM, announced in its 3rd quarter results the acquisition of a 20% stake in French direct lithium extraction company Adionics. 

The deal was worth $20.3 million valuing the firm at $101.5 million. Adionics is developing its cold lithium extraction and hot regeneration process which derives from its research in desalination.  

SQM has a target to reduce water consumption by 50% by 2030, yet little information has been released to date as to how. Given this timeframe, DLE technology acquisition would be the most logical option. DLE technology acquisitions is a trend we expect more broadly throughout the decade.

Lake Resources adds 2.5 Mt LCE to MRE

Lake Resources announced this week an updated MRE for its Kachi DLE project in Catamarca province, Argentina. 

The total resource now stands at 10.6 Mt of LCE (up from 8.1 Mt) with a 223 mg/L Li concentration. Confidence has improved with 69% now in measured and indicated categories (up from 36%). 

The expansion results from step out wells which encountered lithium bearing brines over 600m deep. 

The material update is the M&I upgrade as it feeds into the upcoming DFS reserve estimate. The scale of the resource, although impressive, offers strategic value in the long term only as it is beyond the comprehension of a financeable plant size. 

Standard Lithium announce DLE test work results

Standard Lithium released DLE test work results from its demonstration plant in Arkansas this week. 

The plant uses Koch Industries LiPROTM LSS, an absorption type DLE system. Over a given 2-month period the process was able to recover 96.1% of lithium on average in the DLE step only. Impurity rejection averaged over 99% and boron rejection averaged over 95%. 

The parameters exceed the goals of the company set in its last DFS publication, which is encouraging. If these recoveries are to be relied upon, the effective whole-of-process Li recovery could be some of the highest in the industry.

Infinity Lithium unveils ‘new look’ Scoping Study for the San Jose project in Spain

Infinity Lithium announced updated Scoping Study results for its San Jose zinnwaldite project in Spain this week. The company envisages an underground mine feeding a 2 Mtpa hydromet plant. Crushed ore is put through a high-pressure sulphuric acid leaching process to produce lithiumsulphate before neutralization, impurity removal and causticisation to lithiumhydroxide. Relative to the 2021 PEA which used a flotation and sulphate roast water leach process, recoveries are now 90% (from 53%) resulting in 33 ktpa of lithium hydroxide output (up from 19.5 ktpa). 

The initial CAPEX is $1,544 million (including 20% contingency), while the operating cost EXW Spain is estimated at $5,922/t LiOH.H2O including by-products ($6,730/t LCE). Using a flat price of $27,000/t LiOH.H2O the NPV8% comes in at $2.87 billion post-tax.  

The ambitious project now shares a capital intensity in line with Thacker Pass and perhaps equally as difficult regulatory and technical challenges. The project will sure test the determination of Europe on its quest for lithium self-sufficiency.

Sibelco – Avalon joint venture finalised

Avalon Advanced Materials and Sibelco have closed a joint venture agreement, first announced in June 2023. Avalon contributes its Canadian hard rock lithium assets in return for ~€34.87 million (~C$51.3 million) JV cash contribution, resulting in a 60/40 Sibelco-Avalon JV. Concurrently, Avalon has issued a private placement to Sibelco raising C$10 million for 19.9% of Avalon’s shares together with a C$3 million secured loan. 

The deal involves the PEA stage Separation Rapids petalite-lepidolite project and the exploration stage Lilypad cesium-tantalum-lithium(spodumene) asset. Avalon is working with Metso to develop a petalite concentrate to lithiumhydroxide processing facility in Thunder Bay, Ontario. 

Although not your typical spodumene M&A event, the JV is a healthy development for Ontario and its lithium-bearing mineral projects which need some encouragement when competing with the likes of Quebec or Western Australia. The implied valuation of C$143/t LCE is decently high when considering market conditions and the rate of progress seen on the project. 

POSCO signs MOU to invest in oilfield brines

POSCO has signed an MOU with a private investment company Invest Alberta Corporation with the intention to invest in oilfield brine lithium extraction projects. 

The scope is broadly set to evaluate exploration and development opportunities with viable commercial processes for lithium extraction. 

Invest Alberta Corporation will provide administrative support, critical resource development information, tax incentives, and networking opportunities. 

In a culture where MOUs are taken seriously, so should the intentions of POSCO here. The company is not shy with trying different approaches, such as its phosphate precipitation technology being put into practice at the Hombre Muerto salar, Argentina. 

Azure Minerals enters binding takeover bid with Chile’s SQM

Azure Minerals has entered a binding scheme implementation deed with SQM for A$3.52 cash per Azure share. Azure’s core asset is 60% ownership of the pre-resource Andover hard rock project in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The deal implies a project valuation of A$2.71 billion ($1.71 billion) on a 100% basis. The Creasy Group holds the remaining 40% and is free-carried to FID. 

SQM was an early investor in Azure, picking up 19.99% of the company for A$20 million in January this year. Following drill success, the company revealed SQM had made a takeover offer at A$2.31 per share, which was not pursued. 

Andover has an exploration target of 100 to 240 Mt grading between 1.0% to 1.5% Li2O. 

The hefty valuation implies a resource somewhere in the middle of the exploration target. Given the project’s vast network of pegmatite outcrops with initial proof of spodumene mineralization, this outcome would not be unreasonable, however it will be many years before value is realized. Highlighted once again are the great lengths mining insiders are going to secure the rock.

SQM moves in on 1,411 km2 of prospective Pilbara land

SQM has agreed to acquire up to 40% interest in Pirra Lithium, a privately held JV with tenements in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. 

A 30% interest will be acquired from JV partner Hoama Mining for A$2.5 million cash with the remaining 10% earnt via A$3 million JV contribution. 

JV partner Calidus Resources retains its 40% stake by contributing A$2M. Hoama is also contributing additional tenements to the JV on a earn-in basis and may earn back shares now worth ~7.3% should a resource of >20mt @ >1.0% Li2O be delineated. 

SQM appears to target repeat success following its pre-discovery investment into neighboring Azure Mineral’s Andover project.  This strategy is either an objective growth opportunity or continued diversification from its Chilean operations following the country’s nationalization initiatives.

Atlantic Lithium obtains mining license for Ewoyaa project

Atlantic Lithium has been granted a Mining License for its Ewoyaa lithium project in Ghana. 

The terms include an increased Government of Ghana free carried interest of 13% (from 10%) and a 10% royalty rate (from 5%). 

In addition to the previous announced 6% earn-in interest from the Minerals Income Investment Fund of Ghana, Atlantic will own 40.5% of the project once in production, down from 45%. 

For one of Africa’s most promising development projects this is a significant de-risking event. Although the deal destroys value to Atlantic shareholders relative to previously held assumptions, it is a typical compromise observed in late-stage projects especially when the underlying commodity has seen value appreciation.

Azimut / SOQUEM confirm Adina extension with 78m visual spodumene intercept

Azimut Exploration and Quebec province-owned SOQUEM have intercepted spodumene pegmatites at their Galinée project adjacent to the Winsome Resources Adina discovery. 

Intercepts of up to 78.4m were made, the geometry of which is interpreted to be a possible subparallel zone above Adina’s “Main Zone”. Another intercept of 26.85m is interpreted to be an extension directly down-dip of the Main Zone. Assays are pending. 

The company’s drill program has also been extended to >5,000m to further delineate the extensions.

Although not entirely unexpected, the news is notable as it adds color to the significant and evolving story of Winsome’s Adina discovery. 

Vulcan receives A$200m letter of support from Australian ECA

Vulcan Energy has received a conditional, non-binding letter of support for A$200M of debt finance from Export Finance Australia. 

Funds will be used for Phase One of its Zero Carbon Lithium Geothermal DLE project in Germany. To date, similar in-principle agreements have been received from French, Italian and Canadian ECAs. 

Phase One’s DFS CAPEX estimate of €1,496 million is set to be updated in the upcoming Bridging Study. Thereafter, equity financing will formally commence in November 2023. Vulcan is targeting project level debt-to-equity ratio of 65:35%. 

This broad-based ECA support is an encouraging lead-in to equity negotiations, which will be crucial in realizing one of the European continent’s (and the industry’s) most ambitious projects.

Lithium Energy updates Solaroz MRE

Lithium Energy Ltd has published an updated MRE for its Solaroz brine project in the Olaroz salar, Jujuy province, Argentina. 

The contained lithium remains unchanged at ~3.3 Mt LCE, though 2.4 Mt LCE has been upgraded from inferred to indicated category. The total resource brine concentration sits at 305 mg/L (from 310 mg/L).

The resource specific yield dropped ~36%, from 11.4% to 7.3%, upon inclusion of lab porosity test data to correlate with downhole BMR porosity data. The previous MRE relied solely on BMR results from 3 of 8 wells.

Highlighted is the risks in publishing a resource with immature datasets. Here, the old 3.3 Mt LCE inferred resource has effectively reduced to 2.1 Mt LCE only to be offset with the inclusion of additional volume.

Albemarle – Liontown Resources takeover fallout

Albemarle has pulled out of its A$6.6 billion ($4.2bn) takeover bid for Liontown Resources citing “growing complexities associated with executing the transaction”. 

The move follows Gina Rhinehart’s accrual of 19.9% of Liontown shares. The company was placed into a trading halt before releasing details of a funding package aimed at bringing Kathleen Valley into production. 

The package consists of A$376 million equity (via institutional placement and a shareholder purchase plan) and A$760M debt (from a syndicate of commercial banks and government credit agencies). The equity is being raised at A$1.80 per share, a substantial drop from Albemarle takeover offer of A$3.00 per share. 

The eye-watering 40% drop in valuation is a spectacular conclusion to this high-profile M&A saga. Highlighted are the divergent views of lithium production value by strategic interests versus financial speculators at present.

Chilean lithium strategy underway with binding Lithium Power offer

Lithium Power International (LPI) has entered a binding scheme implementation deed with state-owned Codelco for A$0.57 cash per LPI share, with an implied valuation of ~A$385M. LPI’s core asset is the shovel-ready Maricunga brine project in Chile.

The deal is supported by LPI’s board “in the absence of a superior proposal”, and is subject to approval from shareholders, an independent consultant and the Australian Government’s FIRB. The project’s declared resources total 2.88 Mt LCE, while a 2022 DFS using a volume-weighted-average price of ~$24,800/t LCE placed a NPV8% of $1.41Bn post-tax. 

No matter the chosen evaluation metric, the valuation is considerably lower than recent Argentinian deals. This is reflective of an M&A process lacking competitive price discovery, as to bid is to compete directly with government.

Bullish for locking up future supply, the precedent should not inspire confidence for Chilean developers as it speaks more to asset nationalization than it does “private-public partnership”. To be fair, the accompanying Tsingshan news is a solid example of the latter.

Chile selects Tsingshan Antofagasta lithium cathode plant proposal

China’s Tsingshan (under subsidiary Yongqing Technology) will invest $233.2 million in a 120 ktpa lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) cathode plant in northern Chile. Chilean President Gabriel Boric recently visited China where the announcement was made. 

As part of the deal, Tsingshan has preferential pricing on 11,244 tpa of lithiumcarbonate from Chile’s SQM (until 2030). Chilean economic development agency Corfo announced a similar deal for Chinese company BYD back in April 2023. 
Tsingshan’s plant will create 668 jobs but is also aimed at “transferring knowledge” to Chile as part the broader National Lithium Strategy. 

The initiative is a bold but clever means to upskill local industry while using favorable access to the word’s lowest cost lithium units as incentive.

Develop Global achieves key milestone in Essential Metals acquisition

Develop Global Limited (DVP) has progressed through a positive shareholder vote for the takeover of Essential Metals (ESS). The transaction conducted via 1:6.18 equity swap valued the project at A$152.6 million when initiated in July 2023. 

The target asset is the scoping study level Pioneer Dome project near Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, which hosts a 11.2 Mt resource at 1.16% Li2O. A number of formalities remain until the transaction is finalized, including a Federal Court of Australia hearing and an independent consultant review, set to conclude on or about the 6th of November 2023. 

First initiated with a failed bid from Tianqi Lithium, the 11-month long sale process received an 93% affirmative vote which is unsurprising given the deterioration of market conditions throughout 2023.

Lithium Ionic publishes PEA and updated MRE for Bandeira project

Lithium Ionic announced its PEA results based on an updated MRE for its Bandeira project in Minas Gerais, Brazil this week. The project now hosts 29.5 Mt grading 1.37% Li2O, including 2 Mt and 11.72 Mt at 1.40% Li2O in measured and indicated categories respectively. 

The company envisages an underground mine feeding a 1.3 Mtpa DMS plant, producing both a spodumene concentrate 5.5% Li2O product along with a SC 3% Li2O product via a DMS tailings recovery circuit. The initial CAPEX is $232.8 million, while the all-in sustaining cost CIF China is estimated at $469/t SC5.5 equivalent. Using a CIF $1,859/t SC5.5 price the NPV8% comes in at $1.6 billion post-tax. 

Another formidable Minas Gerais project is scoped out. What the development plan achieves on such a tiny tenement may surprise skeptics. The DMS-only plant is comparable to Sigma and Latin, however with the sublevel stoping, throughput is capped and as a result CAPEX intensity is considerably higher. Impressively, OPEX is contained at a level between Sigma and Latin which in a global context is not a bad place to be. 

Anson Resources project consolidation adds 45% to MRE

Anson Resources announced a 45% increase to its mineral resource estimate to 1.5 Mt LCE for its Paradox brine project in Utah, USA. The additional resources derive from the acquisition of the neighboring Green Energy LithiumProject.
The combined resource now has a lithium concentration in brine of 112 ppm and 3,023 ppm bromine. The advanced stage oilfield brine project aims to use Sunresin’s absorption + membrane direct lithium extraction technology which is operational in China. 

The project consolidation is a positive step for Anson, however, its rank remains among USA peers using “unconventional” technology with high CAPEX intensity, posing challenges.

Core Lithium adds confidence and ~400 kt to BP33 resource

Core Lithium announced a mineral resource upgrade for the BP33 resource, now 89% in measured and indicated categories (from 69%). 

In aggregate, 400 kt of ore has been added for 10.5 Mt at 1.53% Li2O (from 10.1 Mt at 1.48% Li2O) for an incremental +9 kt of contained Li2O. 

The underground target is the second in a line of ore bodies to be exploited at the Finniss lithium operation, near Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia. 

The project now totals 31.1 Mt of resources (not including depletion from Grants). Underground development is subject to a final investment decision in early 2024. 

Any increase in confidence, whether in resource or metallurgy, is especially meaningful to Core at this stage as it recovers from its subpar DMS-only concentrator ramp-up.

Green Technology Metals adds 2 Mt to Root Bay MRE

Green Technology Metals announced a mineral resource upgrade for the Root Bay resource, adding 2 Mt for a total 10.1 Mt grading 1.30% Li2O (from 8.1 Mt at 1.32% Li2O) for an incremental +23 kt of contained Li2O. 

Root Bay is now the company’s largest single resource, spanning 1.3km and remains prospective along strike. There are currently two drill rigs on site testing extensions with an 8,440m 46-hole drill program. 

The momentum of resource building at Root Bay is encouraging, although tonnes continue to be added at considerable depth. Furthermore, the success is at odds with the companies plans to develop the asset after Seymour and accompanying hydroxide facility, a decision likely due to favorable infrastructure connectivity.

Azure Minerals releases metallurgical testwork from its Andover project

Azure Minerals announced sighter metallurgical testwork results from its Andover lithium project in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Three samples tested from the “Target Area 1” showed sub-economic HLS / DMS results which were not disclosed.

Flotation testwork on one sample at a grind size of P100 212 µm returned a concentrate grade of 5.59% Li2O at 82.37% recovery. Mineralogical analysis on this sample returned 2.05% iron(III) oxide, a key deleterious element. Moving forward, flotation testwork will be a focus as seven drill rigs continue resource definition on site.
The results advocate a fine grind whole-of-ore flotation with magnetic separation, translating to theoretically higher capital and operational costs. In the context of Azure’s recently rejected A$901 million takeover bid from SQM, the news highlights the criticality of metallurgical testwork as a pre-condition to tonnage & grade value realization. This holistic perspective is central to Adamas Intelligence’s analysis process.

Tantalex Resources publishes PEA for the Manono Tailings project

Tantalex Resources announced its PEA results for its Manono Tailings project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo this week.

The company conceptualizes historic tin mine tailings as feed for a 1.6 Mtpa DMS + fines flotation plant, recovering a spodumene concentrate 5.5% Li2O product for shipment out of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

The initial CAPEX is $148 million, while the cash cost FOB is estimated at $1,002/t SC5.5. Using a flat price of $2,800/t SC5.5 FOB, the NPV10% comes in at $764 million pre-tax.

The valuation seems unreliable given aggressive price assumptions, project sizing and 6-year life of mine. However, with more drilling and tin & tantalum credits the plant may be justified, particularly if underpinned by development of the regions principle lithium project (AVZ Minerals).

Sibanye Stillwater gives the green light to Keliber Oy Phase Two

Sibanye Stillwater announced the approval of phase two of its Keliber integrated lithium project in Finland this week. The second phase includes the concentrator and develops the first of four open pits. Phase one’s 15,000 tpa lithium hydroxide refinery kicked off construction in February.

The total project capital estimate was also updated to €656 million, which is 11.5% higher than the €588 million estimate from the October 2022 DFS. Included is €10 million worth of flowsheet upgrades purported to increase recoveries, ensure environmental compliance, and maintain the project’s net-present value.

Continued momentum in Europe’s first integrated hard rock lithium project is encouraging. The late-stage capital cost upgrade is not uncommon particularly in the context of global inflationary pressures.