Mineral Resources (MinRes) has seen strong growth in its lithium operations with realised spodumene prices rising 56 per cent from the previous quarter to $US1153 ($1619) per dry metric tonne (dmt), its December quarterly report shows.
The Mt Marion lithium mine in Western Australia produced 98,000 dmt of spodumene and saw shipments increase by 92 per cent, reflecting the previous quarter’s shipment being delayed to the second quarter of the 2022 financial year.
Further south, the 50ktpa Kemerton Lithium Hydroxide plant is continuing construction, with spodumene ore now introduced into the plant as part of the commissioning process, and commercial production expected in mid-2022.
The restart of the Wodgina Lithium mine in the Pilbara is underway with the first spodumene production expected during the first quarter of the 2023 financial year.
While December saw growth for lithium, MinRes felt the effects of falling iron ore prices which declined 19 per cent from the previous quarter to $US63.23 ($88.86) per dmt, only 58 per cent of the Platts IODEX benchmark iron ore price.
Unplanned border closures and lockdowns implemented due to COVID-19 continued to impact MinRes operations throughout the quarter.
Ore mined at the Yilgarn hub was 11 per cent lower as a result of labour constraints, however, the mine produced a consistent amount of ore at 2.6 million wet metric tonnes (wmt).
Iron ore shipments totalled 4.9 million wet metric tonnes during the quarter, driven by the growth of the new Wonmunna mine at the Utah Point hub in the East Pilbara region.
In January 2022, iron ore prices reached four-month highs of $130 per tonne for the first time since October 2021.
The December quarterly report shows figures up until 31 December 2021, so the recent price increase is not reflected in the report.