MRL capitalises on lithium boom


Mineral Resources (MRL) has begun 2022 by raking in spodumene concentrate prices almost 70 per cent higher than the prior corresponding period (pcp), with production levels set to capitalise.

The Mt Marion lithium project in Western Australia produced 104,000 tonnes of spodumene concentrate for the March quarter, of which MRL owns 51 per cent as of February 2022.

The average realised price of the product was $US1952 ($2652) per tonne, an increase of 69 per cent on the March quarter of 2021.

Mt Marion produced 5 per cent less spodumene concentrate than the pcp, but plans were announced to increase the project’s annual capacity from 450,000 to 600,000 tonnes.

“The decision to upgrade the plant reflects an expectation that the lithium market outlook will remain extremely strong for the foreseeable future” MRL stated in its quarterly report.

At the Wodgina lithium mine – where MRL agreed with MARBL joint venture partner Albemarle Corporation to explore expansion opportunities – 22,000 tonnes of spodumene concentrate were shipped from existing stockpiles at an average price of $US2200 per tonne.

The MARBL JV is excepting first new spodumene concentrate from Wodgina train one in May, with resumption of train two accelerating for first concentrate in July.

“The MARBL JV has also agreed to review the state of the global lithium market towards the end of this calendar year to assess timing for the start-up of train three and the possible construction of train four,” MRL stated.

MRL had a strong quarter in iron ore mining as well, with both shipments (4.6 million tonnes) and production (4.9 million tonnes) increasing on the pcp by 22 and 11 per cent, respectively.

MRL’s iron ore exploration and development activity also progressed across Western Australia.

A fast-tracked drilling program is targeted for the June quarter at the Yilgarn hub; the Ashburton hub trialled a world-first autonomous road trains project; and the Pilbara hub received news from the State Government of an increase to export capacities at the Port of Port Hedland.

The latter development will see a joint venture form between MRL and Hancock Prospecting for the development of a new export facility at South West Creek where MRL could ship at least 20 million tonnes of iron ore per annum.

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