Weekly Lithium Lowdown with Chris Williams – Week 41, 2023
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.
Adamas take: 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$901M 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 US$148M, while the cash cost FOB is estimated at US$1,002/t SC5.5. Using a flat price of US$2,800/t SC5.5 FOB, the NPV10% comes in at US$764M pre-tax.
Adamas take: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 €656M, which is 11.5% higher than the €588M estimate from the October 2022 DFS. Included is €10M worth of flowsheet upgrades purported to increase recoveries, ensure environmental compliance, and maintain the project’s net-present value.
Adamas take: 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.
Albemarle – Liontown extend due diligence:
Albermarle’s non-binding takeover bid for Liontown Resources has entered an extended due diligence phase of seven days, after Albemarle requested four weeks.
Meanwhile, billionaire Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting has upped it’s stake in Liontown to 19.9%. In a statement, Hancock said it has “achieved its strategic stake objective” and “looks forward to having a prominent influence on Liontown’s future, as its largest shareholder”.
Upon achieving the stake objectives and in the absence of buying pressure, shares in Liontown closed 1.7% lower to A$2.87 on Thursday’s trade.
Adamas take: Albemarle’s due diligence extension appears intended to facilitate an outcome with the newfound “prominent influence” being Hancock.
Chris Williams, Analyst at Adamas Intelligence
Chris is an Analyst at Adamas Intelligence focused on the global lithium industry. He researches and analyzes the lithium value chain to uncover actionable opportunities for clients.
Chris has 11-years experience in mining and oil & gas operations optimization, delivering value from data intensive insight generation. He completed his Bachelor and Masters of Engineering at the University of Queensland, majoring in Mechanical Engineering, and is currently completing a Masters of Business Administration at the University of British Columbia.
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