Mineral Resources (MRL) will increase production from its Wodgina and Mt Marion spodumene mines in Western Australia in response to unprecedented global customer demand for lithium products.
MRL managing director Chris Ellison said that the growing demand for lithium has been driven by the strength of the electric vehicle market.
“This demand has resulted in a substantial increase in lithium prices, with pricing expected to remain strong for the rest of this decade,” he said.
Alongside Albemarle, MRL decided to accelerate the resumption of production from Train 2 at Wodgina, with the first spodumene concentrate expected in July 2022.
The company’s preparations to recommence operations at Train 1 are well underway, with first spodumene concentrate from this train now expected in May 2022 – previously estimated at the third quarter of 2022.
Each train has a nameplate capacity of 250,000 dry metric tonnes of 6 per cent product.
MRL and Albemarle agreed to review the state of global lithium market toward the end of this calendar year, to reassess the timing for the start-up of Train 3 and the possible construction of Train 4.
MRL and its 50/50 joint venture partner Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium (Ganfeng) agreed to upgrade the Mt Marion procession facilities, given the positive metallurgical test work results and the completion of project studies at the mine.
This is expected to result in the immediate increase in Mt Marion’s spodumene concentrate of production capacity from 450,000 to 600,000 tonnes per annum of mixed grade product by April 2022.
A further expansion comprising of a dense media separation (DMS) plant upgrade, a new crushing circuit and an upgrade to the mine camp should increase installed plant capacity to a run rate of 900,000 tonnes per annum mixed grade by the end of 2022.
“I’m proud of the great work our team have done at Wodgina and Mt Marion. As we continue to significantly expand our spodumene supply from these Tier 1 mines in Western Australia, we look forward to creating many more long-term jobs and supporting the surrounding communities for decades to come,” Ellison said.
“With a world-class portfolio of highest-quality, long-life lithium assets in a Tier 1 mining jurisdiction, we are well-positioned to capitalise on the continued growth of the global electric vehicle market.”