Diversified mining group Mineral Resources has launched a process to sell up to 49 per cent of the Wodgina lithium project in the Pilbara region in Western Australia.
The company’s plan to sell a stake in Wodgina follows it receiving a significant number of unsolicited approaches from lithium processors, battery manufacturers, international trading companies and automakers interested in a direct investment or securing offtake agreements.
Wodgina, considered the world’s largest hard rock lithium deposit, has a JORC mineral resource of 233Mt and an inaugural probable hard rock reserve in the Casserite Pit of 142.4Mt.
This reserve supports a mine life of almost 30 years at a production rate of 5.65Mt/y, with exploration upside.
MinRes already mines direct-shipping ore (DSO) at Wodgina. It is also progressing the site’s open pit pre-strip and constructing a 750,000t/y spodumene concentrate plant.
Chris Ellison, MinRes managing director, said the minority sale process was in line with the company’s strategy of investing in early-stage projects, adding significant value and then seeking equity partners to share in the value from a full development plan.
“The decision to embark on a process to sell a minority interest in Wodgina will allow MinRes to focus on its core strategy of being a world-leading mining services provider at the same time as having like-minded strategic partners invest with us to fully unlock Wodgina’s lithium potential,” Ellison said.
“However, MinRes will only introduce project partners if acceptable terms can be secured. MinRes has the capability to finance and implement its downstream processing strategy at Wodgina on its own.”
MinRes plans to “shortly start engaging” with the parties interested in the Wodgina stake, as well as with other bona-fide groups.
The company, which also includes a mining services division and iron ore assets, first exported Wodgina DSO to China in April last year. It has steadily ramped up DSO operations during the 2018 financial year as long lead mining equipment has been delivered to site.
Wodgina’s spodumene concentrate plant will comprise three trains, each with a 250,000t/y capacity. Construction of the plant is under way, with production of 6 per cent spodumene concentrate from the three trains scheduled to start in October 2018, December 2018 and March 2019, respectively.
MinRes acquired the Wodgina lithium mining tenements and associated infrastructure from Global Advanced Metals (GAM) in mid-2016.