Liontown Resources flags monster $490m raising

Liontown Resources has announced a monster $490 million equity raising to fund the bulk of its Kathleen Valley lithium project near Leinster.    The raising comes just weeks after the Tim Goyder-chaired company released a definitive feasibility study for its flagship $473m project which is expected to produce 500,000 tonnes a year of spodumene concentrate in its first five years of operation, rising to 700,000tpa from year six of a 23-year minelife.

The company has also recently signed a landmark indigenous land use agreement with the local Tjiwarl Native Title holders that clears a path for further permitting to go ahead.  Liontown said the raising would enable it to finalise discussions with offtake partners and commercial lenders, order long-lead items, finalise permitting and accelerate development towards first production in 2024.

Liontown has described Kathleen Valley as a tier-one global lithium project with outstanding economics and sector-leading sustainability credentials.  The recent study gives it a post-tax net present value of $4.2 billion based on an 8 per cent discount and an internal rate of return of 57 per cent.

The expansion would give the project’s production profile a similar scale to Pilbara Minerals’ planned 800,000tpa-850,000tpa operation at its Pilgangoora mine in the Pilbara and make the company a top-five global producer.

Venus looking to unlock WA lithium

Perth-based Venus Metals’ Henderson project north of Menzies in WA could turn out to be a triple header with the company recently completing a hard-rock lithium sampling and mapping program at the gold and nickel site. .  The area looks to be developing into a hub for battery mineral exploration with Red Dirt Metals having just uncovered a fresh suite of spodumene-bearing lithium pegmatites at its Mt Ida project, around 10 kilometres from Venus’ tenure.

The lively neighbourhood also includes Ora Banda Mining’s lepidolite-rich pegmatite tenure south of Venus’ Henderson project. Interestingly, Ora Banda recently used historical geological mapping to uncover several lithium-bearing pegmatites over a 10 km zone near its’ Riverina fold mine.  Venus’ Henderson project is a five-piece puzzle of exploration licenses. The area covers an 800 square kilometre zone that takes in an approximate 25km strike length of the Ularring Greenstone belt.

Lithium is quickly becoming one of the world’s most sought-after metals on the back of increased electric vehicle production. Demand for the resource has skyrocketed in recent times and there is a strong belief this trend could linger as the world moves towards “cleaner” energy.  Australia produces about 20 per cent of the world’s lithium, mostly from the hard-rock mining of spodumene.

The bulk of global production is from Chile which manufactures over 50 per cent of lithium through hypersaline brines called ‘salars’.

CME welcomes aspirations to charge up battery sector
The Chamber of Minerals and Energy of WA (CME) welcomes the release of the Future Charge: Building Australia’s Battery Industries report as a further validation of the shared aspiration of industry, State and Federal Governments to take advantage of downstream opportunities in the battery value chain.

These aspirations reflect a desire for Australia to capture value in the global demand for lithium-ion batteries that is expected to increase 24-26 per cent annually to 2030.

The report acknowledges that WA is the only state in Australia that has a battery industry development strategy, which has been important in market awareness, investment attraction, and laying the groundwork for further downstream activity.   Western Australia has several competitive advantages in the battery space, including endowment of raw materials required for batteries, a world-class mining sector and strong ESG credentials.

The State is already the largest producer of mined lithium, a top-five producer of nickel, rare earths and cobalt, and will also be home to refineries producing highly purified lithium, nickel, and rare earth chemicals much of which comes from the Goldfields-Esperance region..

This position underpins significant value and job creation to 2030. The report estimates Australia’s established market position in raw materials and refined products could deliver $3.7bn of value-add and, support 14,800 jobs to 2030.