Economics improve for Zimbabwe lithium project

Source: Economics improve for Zimbabwe lithium project – Argus Media

Perth-based lithium developer Prospect Resources has improved the economics for its Arcadia lithium-tantalum project in Zimbabwe after completing an updated definitive feasibility study.

The project’s estimated mine life has increased to 15.5 years from 12 years, during which it is expected to produce 173,000 t/yr of spodumene concentrate, 122,000 t/yr of petalite concentrate and 173,000 lbs/yr of tantalite concentrate grading 25pc tantalite pentoxide.

Capital expenditure for the project has been reduced by 2pc to $162mn, while the pre-tax net present value has risen by 39pc to $710mn. The project’s payback period has been reduced by 12 months to 18 months.

Prospect, which has an offtake agreement in place with China’s Sinomine Resources for some of Arcadia’s output, is aiming to become Africa’s first lithium producer.

Unlike many lithium operations, it has three potential product streams targeted at the electric vehicle (EV) and energy storage markets, the glass and ceramic markets and other industrial applications.

Life of mine operating costs vary from $268/t for spodumene concentrate to $458/t for ultra-low iron petalite concentrate.

With a mineral resource of 72.7mn t and an ore reserve of 37.4mn t grading 1.22pc lithium oxide and 121 parts per million tantalum pentoxide, Arcadia has a globally significant hard rock lithium-tantalum deposit.

The project is fully permitted and has been granted special development status by the Zimbabwe government and has a power supply agreement in place in a country ravaged by unstable electricity supply.

Prospect estimates that the project’s implementation phase will take 18 months once funding has been finalised, with a further five months for commissioning. This is in line with the company’s expectation that the world will start experiencing lithium supply deficits from 2021 as the EV and energy storage markets gain momentum.