Earl Grey lithium resource rises
Perth, 19 March (Argus) — The Earl Grey lithium deposit in Western Australia has cemented its position as one of the world's premier hard rock lithium resources through a major upgrade in mineral resources and contained metal.
The mineral resource was upgraded to 189mn t, grading 1.5pc lithium oxide compared to a previous estimate of 128mn t, grading 1.4pc lithium oxide, project developer Kidman Resources said. Around 91pc of the new mineral resource is in the measured and indicated category.
Earl Grey is now estimated to contain 7.03mn t of lithium carbonate equivalent, the second largest total of any hard rock lithium deposit in the world. It was previously estimated to contain 4.5mn t of lithium carbonate equivalent.
Only the Greenbushes mine in Western Australia, owned jointly by US-based Albermarle and China's Tianqi Lithium has higher lithium carbonate equivalent content than Earl Grey.
The Earl Grey deposit forms part of the Mt Holland joint venture between Kidman and Santiago-based lithium brine developer Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile (SQM). It is expected to be in the first quartile of the global lithium hard rock cost curve.
A further exploration target of 20-40mn t was decided for Earl Grey as the partners seek to increase the project's mine life and move into downstream activities.
Kidman and SQM are making progress with the Mt Holland joint venture and expect to a decision on the location of a site for a lithium hydroxide plant in the June quarter of this year.
There is a high level of interest from various parties seeking to acquire lithium hydroxide offtake from the proposed plant, Kidman said.