The majority near-term milestones, including the mineral resource upgrade and updated mine plan and updated feasibility study, are not reliant on fieldwork.
Core Lithium managing director Stephen Biggins said: “Even though COVID-19 will delay our next round of mineral resource expansion drilling in 2020, our commercial and financing discussions continue, and the project’s feasibility study update and approvals are progressing.”
Feasibility study update
Following the completion of a large drilling and field program in 2019, which aimed to define sufficient mineral resources to materially increase the mine life at Finniss, the company is currently working towards the delivery of an updated feasibility study for the project.
The updated mine plan will incorporate the initial mining of Grants, an expanded BP33 deposit plus the addition of a much larger Carlton deposit.
Biggins said: “Alongside progress on major milestones on approvals, offtake and finance, Core is working towards updating the Finniss feasibility study to at least double or possibly triple the project mine-life.”
The completion of the updated mine plan does not require any fieldwork or travel, as such, the first half 2020 timeframe for the feasibility study update has not changed.
Mineral resource upgrade
The new mineral resource upgrade will be used to update the mine plan for Finniss, with efficient underground mining techniques to be investigated and modelled for the high-grade BP33 and Carlton deposits.
Based on the high-quality drill results received since the completion of the feasibility study in 2019, Core is confident that the mineral resource upgrade and mine plan update will be strongly positive for the Finniss Lithium Project.
The increased mine life for the project is expected to be attractive to offtake and financing partners.
Core continues to work positively with offtake partner and largest shareholder Sichuan Yahua Industrial Group Co Ltd (SHE:002497) and other strategic partners as the company looks to add additional offtake and sources of strategic finance for the project.
Core’s strategic partners remain committed to their own long-term views and strategic positions with respect to lithium-ion battery demand originating in Europe and North America.
With China appearing to be returning to business following disruptions from Chinese New Year and COVID-19, discussions with strategic partners have recommenced and accelerated.
Biggins said: “Given the low capex and naturally competitive operating costs of the project close to Port, with project approvals potentially in place and substantially increased mine life in the near future, we see the Finniss Lithium Project being front of the line of new global lithium supply as EV manufacturing recovers post COVID-19.
“Shareholders and investors in Core will be strong beneficiaries as markets rebalance and value focusses on the forecast revenue of Core’s low-capex, construction-ready lithium project positioned to finance and construct.”
Core is well established with cash on hand of $4 million (at December 31, 2019) and is confident it can fund existing key milestones and deliver a construction and finance ready project in 2020.