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The first 10,000 tonne (t) spodumene concentrate from Core Lithium’s Finniss lithium project has been loaded at Clearwater Bay for delivery to Ganfeng Lithium, China’s largest lithium producer.

The ship was loaded at Darwin Port, near Core’s wholly owned Finniss project, on September 7 and is expected to discharge the cargos at ports in China sometime in September.

The milestone arrives not too long after the Australian lithium miner announced that the third 10,000t parcel of lithium spodumene concentrate was ready to be shipped to Ganfeng Lithium.

In Core Lithium’s June quarter report, it said that a range of trials and improvement projects to increase lithia recoveries and plant utilisation had been developed with some commencing during the quarter.

“To help address the lower recoveries in the near-term, the potential for lithium fines to become a saleable by-product has been identified. This material is generated during ore crushing and the processing of ore by the DMS (dense medium separation) plant,” the report said.

“An initial parcel of the fines material is to be transported to the Port of Darwin for anticipated sale in Q1 FY24 (the first quarter of the 2024 financial year).”

The company has now successfully negotiated the sale of an initial parcel of fines from its Finniss operations, resulting in a 15,000t parcel with a grade of 1.2 per cent lithium oxide (Li2O) being loaded.

“Delivering concentrate into long-term offtake agreements is a significant milestone for Core as we ramp up operations at the Finniss lithium operation,” Core Lithium chief executive officer Gareth Manderson said.

“The product presents well and will be sold on a formula-based pricing mechanism linked to the lithium spot price.

“The sale of the lithium fines has been established to deliver a revenue stream from a previously unsold by-product. Lithium fines sales provides an immediate commercial option while plant recovery improvement work is underway.”