Neometals Ltd (ASX:NMT) and partners in the Mt Marion Lithium Operation in Western Australia have added 500,000 tonnes to the total resource, which stands at 71.3 million tonnes at 1.37% lithium oxide.
The additional resource comes from a previously poorly defined pegmatite lens adjacent to the Area I pegmatite.
Infill drilling has increased the size of this lens from 100,000 to 600,000 tonnes grading 1.31% lithium oxide and 0.68% iron above a cut‐off grade of 0.5% lithium oxide.
Updated resource estimate
The resource estimate as of October 21, 2016, was 77.8 million tonnes at 1.37% lithium oxide and 1.09% iron.
The updated resource prepared by Mineral Resources reflects mining depletion of 6.9 million tonnes to October 1, 2018, as well as the additional 500,000 tonnes of spodumene-bearing pegmatite.
Strong quarterly performance
RIM achieved strong operational performance at Mt Marion in the September quarter with 111,000 wet metric tonnes (wmt) of concentrate produced and 91,000 wmt of concentrates shipped to Ganfeng.
Of this production total, 77,000 tonnes was 6% lithium oxide and 34,000 tonnes was 4%.
There was a 9% increase in the higher grade (SC6) proportionate production quarter-on-quarter.
Total movement of 5.2 million wet tonnes was achieved during the quarter, providing consistent access to the ore body for processing.
Production upgrade on track
Construction of additional flotation concentrator circuits to upgrade production to all SC6 concentrate is on track with commissioning expected to start in late 2018.
Steady state operation of the expansion and the achievement of all SC6 product is expected in the June quarter of 2019.
Neometals has an integrated lithium supply strategy which incorporates mining and producing spodumene concentrate, refining spodumene to lithium compounds and recycling lithium batteries to recover battery metals.
This strategy includes the company’s lithium recovery technology along with a lithium refinery at Kalgoorlie to produce the greater value product of lithium hydroxide.
A FEED study for the refinery project is on track for completion in December 2018 while an offtake/partner selection process is yielding significant interest.
The company recently outlined plans to demerge its titanium and vanadium assets, which will allow Neometals and the new company to separately focus on development of their respective integrated lithium and titanium-vanadium strategies.