ASX-listed European Lithium Ltd is developing the Wolfsberg lithium project in Austria, and, as non-executive chairman Tony Sage explains to Proactive Investors, it is not doing so from a standing start.
The Austrian government backed a previous developer of the mine in the eighties, pumping the equivalent of about a hundred million dollars in today’s money into the project before the mine was put into mothballs after the lithium price collapsed.
Fast forward some thirty years and lithium is a hot property, being used in batteries – particularly in the burgeoning electric car market.
“A lot of the hard work has now been done for the company, and it’s now up to us to resurrect the old mine and start to get it into production over the next two years,” Sage said.
The company still has to sift through a pile of information collected by the Austrians back in the eighties, and it has done a bit of drilling to verify that data.
“We’ve now got 6.3mln tonnes going over 1% lithium”, Sage said.
The company is mulling two routes to production, and which route it takes depends on the testing the company is currently doing. If the ore is ready to be mined, then some production could be fast-tracked.
Over the long term, by the end of 2018 or early 2019, the company should be in full production.
“Our aim is to be the very first supplier of lithium from Europe, to Europe,” Sage said. “You’ve got a lot of suppliers coming from South America, Australia and North America, but the cost of transporting the material to Europe is expensive; if we can be the first producers in Europe, we can distribute the product throughout Europe for four or five dollars a tonne.”