NT’s First Operational Lithium Mine Opened

Core's Finniss lithium mine - Northern Territory

The first lithium mine in production in the Northern Territory and Australia’s only lithium mine outside WA was officially opened yesterday.

As the world shifts to renewable energy, huge quantities of lithium will be needed for the production of energy storage solutions – everything from home batteries to electric cars.

Australia is currently the biggest lithium exporter in the world and will continue to have a leading role in supply. Global demand for lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) is expected to reach 1,058,000 tonnes by 2024, and Australia should meet around 469,000 tonnes of that demand.

One of the projects to play its part is Core Lithium’s Finniss mine in the Northern Territory, which is situated just 88 kilometre by sealed road from Darwin Port. Finniss boasts JORC 2012 compliant1 mineral resources of 15 million tonnes at 1.3% lithium oxide (Li20).

Yesterday, the Finniss mine was formally opened by NT Minister for Mining and Industry Nicole Manison.

“Our abundance of mineral resources, and a port that is the gateway to Asia, make the Northern Territory the perfect location for game changing projects like this,” said Minister Manison. “Lithium is the way of the future both for cleaner energy and the Territory economy.”

According to Core, Finniss is on track to export Direct Shipping Ore (DSO) lithium by the end of this year and will reach commercial production of spodumene (a lithium aluminium silicate mineral) concentrate in the first half of next year.

“Core is bringing production online at a time of high lithium prices, strong global demand and constrained supply,” said Core CEO Gareth Manderson. ” The Core team has done a fantastic job quickly transitioning from discovery and exploration to construction and shortly supply of high-grade lithium concentrate to a global market in just six years.”

Helping things along in the final stretch and for a couple of years to come was Core securing major project status (MPS) for Finniss from the Federal Government in February last year.

No Shortage Of Lithium Customers For Core

Buyers are already lined up for output from Finniss, with 80% of the first four years of production from the mine already spoken for.

Among the buyers is China’s Sichuan Yahua Industrial Group, which has committed to 75,000 tonnes per annum over an initial four-year period and with options to extend.  It is expected lithium from Finniss will be a key source of the raw material for Yahua to supply battery-grade lithium hydroxide to EV manufacturer Tesla under a contract the company inked in last year. And on that note, Core entered into a legally binding term sheet with Tesla for the supply of up to 110,000 tonnes of spodumene concentrate over a term of 4 years in March this year.

Another buyer with dibs on Finniss lithium is Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium Co., Ltd, which has signed up for the supply of 75,000 tonnes of spodumene concentrate per annum over 4 years.

Footnotes

  1. The JORC Code sets minimum standards for public reporting of minerals exploration results, mineral resources and ore reserves. First published in 1989, the latest Code was released in 2012.
About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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