Leo Lithium maintains pace at Goulamina through December 2023

Leo Lithium (ASX:LLL) reports the Goulamina Lithium Project is approaching 60% completion at the end of December, an increase of 15% over the previous quarter.

The company dedicated its December 2023 quarter to progressing Goulamina in southern Mali — the world’s fifth largest spodumene deposit. 

In December, Mining.com.au reported that the company received the first funds (US$12.4 million) from an equity investment agreement with GFL International (Ganfeng) (SHE:002460), which committed to funding $137.2 million for Goulamina. 

Funding was received despite Leo Lithium’s ongoing ASX suspension. Shares in the company have been in limbo for all but 2 weeks since 18 July 2023. 

Leo notes project construction is well underway with first production still targeted for Q2 2024.

The company notes that construction of Corica Mali’s long-term mining fleet progressed during the quarter, with the Cat 6030 excavator, three Cat 777 trucks and the water truck largely complete.

According to the company’s December quarterly report, construction and mining activities at Goulamina. are progressing with an 1,800 ‘strong’ workforce. Leo notes it maintains an ongoing commitment to safety with over 3 million hours worked with no lost time injury. 

The company says a commissioning team was also mobilised to site during the quarter to begin planning for operational readiness. Goulamina is approaching 60% completion, says Leo.

Leo reports the mining contractor mobilised its main fleet to site and 549,000 bulk cubic metres of material was mined in the quarter. 

Managing Director Simon Hay says the company continues to actively engage with the Mali government to achieve a constructive resolution and advance Goulamina, which he says is the next lithium asset of ‘significant scale’ to enter production.  

“Leo Lithium continues to actively engage with the Mali government to reach a constructive resolution, and we appreciate our shareholders’ patience and support as we navigate through this process. In the December quarter we advanced our world-class Goulamina lithium project which continues to represent the next lithium asset of significant scale to enter production globally. 

“We hold a strong relationship with Ganfeng and we are pleased to report on the operational progress made on the ground in the quarter. Leo Lithium and Ganfeng continue to work towards bringing the project into production to become West Africa’s first spodumene producer and supply the growing lithium-ion battery industry.”  

By year-end, mining in the Starter Pit continued with total material movement of 549,000 bulk cubic metres (bcms). The ore has been stockpiled for future processing and waste material has been used for construction of the Run of Mine pad.

About 79,000 bcm of ore material was added to the stockpile for processing when the processing plant is completed. Grade control drilling and topsoil clearing commenced in the next cut back in advance of overburden stripping this area.

Mining rates achieved by local mining contractor, Corica Mali, continue in line with pre-production estimates and wet season impacts have been as per expectations.

The project team continues to pursue several Mali government approvals relating to power generation, airstrip, density gauges and customs exoneration application processes. The approval of the power generation permit is later than planned and approaching the critical path.

Until approved, Leo says power continues to be provided via smaller, standalone temporary units.

As at 31 December 2023 Leo Lithium’s closing cash was $33.6 million and the Goulamina JV held cash of US$9.2 million, with US$124.8 million funding under the Equity Investment Deed still available to the Goulamina JV.

Write to Adam Drought at Mining.com.au

Images: Leo Lithium
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Written By Adam Drought
Born and raised in the UK, Adam is a sports fanatic with an interest in Rugby League and UFC/MMA. When not training in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Adam attends Griffith University where he is completing his final year of a Communication & Journalism degree.