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Mineral Resources becomes biggest Li exporter

8 Feb 2018, 12.32 pm GMT

Mineral Resources becomes biggest Li exporter

Cape Town, 8 February (Argus) — Perth-based mining group Mineral Resources has become the world's largest lithium exporter and has extensive expansion and beneficiation plans.

It is the major shareholder in the Mt Marion and Wodgina lithium projects in Western Australia.

The Mt Marion mine produced 221,000t of spodumene concentrate in its fiscal first half year and is on track to produce 450,000t in the full fiscal year. A total of 202,000t of spodumene concentrate was shipped to China in the fiscal first half.

Sales for the second quarter of fiscal 2018 were priced at $843/t for 6pc lithium oxide and $478/t for 4pc lithium oxide.

The Wodgina direct shipping ore project produced 2.01mn t during the fiscal first half of which 1.77mn t was shipped to China. The mine is on target to produce 4.5-4.75mn t in fiscal 2018.

Exploration is continuing at Mt Marion and Wodgina to increase resources and expand production.

At Wodgina, the construction of three 250,000 t/yr spodumene plants is underway. The first plant expected to be completed by September. The project is moving away from shipping direct shipping ore to higher margin lithium concentrate.

A feasibility study for a lithium carbonate plant is making progress with construction expected to begin during 2018.

At Mt Marion, spodumene sale prices increased for the third quarter of fiscal 2018. The price of 6pc concentrate rose to $900/t and the price of 4pc concentrate rose to $570/t. An upgrade to produce more 6pc material is expected by the end of the year.

Demand for lithium continues to grow ahead of supply, the company said. "There is limited supply of brine and hard rock lithium stocks with few world class projects capable of entering production," it said.

Mineral Resources expects a mine life of more than 30 years across its two projects. It is now focusing on moving to higher value processing, it said.

The company, which also produces iron ore, reported a 22pc rise in revenue to A$962mn ($769mn) and a 26pc rise in profit to A$131mn.

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