West Africa-focused lithium miner Leo Lithium (ASX:LLL) has produced its first direct shipped ore (DSO) at its equally owned Goulamina Lithium Project shared with Ganfeng (SHE:002460) in Mali.
The company reports the first blast on site was initiated earlier this month. Initial DSO mining activities have focused on the stage one starter pit that contains 1.65 million tonnes of undiluted fresh ore in the measured resource category at an average grade of 1.68% Li2O and 0.73% Fe2O3.
The stage one starter pit is centred on the Main pegmatite domain, which formed part of the recently upgraded Goulamina mineral resource. The starter pit will enable the mining process to be optimised and provide reconciliation data that will be integrated into the ore reserve update, which is scheduled to be completed in August 2023.
The early works and DSO crushing contractor, Corica Mining Services, is methodically ramping up activities on site. Additionally, the starter pit for the DSO operation has been prepared with the first bench completed, as the crusher and associated equipment performs to a ‘high’ standard.
Leo reports it will award the contracts for the haulage of DSO imminently, while a robust due diligence process has finalised following the issue of the trucking tender in April.
The company says the process involved several local contractors of ‘high-calibre’ with a ‘comprehensive’ site visit completed by Leo, while logistics experts confirmed the quality of the fleet and capability.
Discussions are also advancing with the Port of San Pedro in Côte d’Ivoire to act as an additional port option to the Port of Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire.
Leo says the DSO haulage process will give it insights to define the ‘optimal’ materials handling solution ahead of spodumene concentrate production, which is on schedule to begin in the first half of 2024.
First revenue from DSO is on track to be received during Q4 2023, and Leo Lithium anticipates the export of DSO ore for 6-9 months in advance of spodumene production. On an annualised basis, Leo is targeting 185,000 tonnes of DSO exports until spodumene production begins in the first half of 2024..
“The early start-up of the open-pit mining operations at Goulamina via DSO is a positive milestone that positions the company to crystallise long-term benefits”
Commenting on the production of DSO, Leo Lithium Managing Director Simon Hay says: “The early start-up of the open-pit mining operations at Goulamina via DSO is a positive milestone that positions the company to crystallise long-term benefits.
The revenue potential during a solid pricing environment will bolster our balance sheet flexibility as we continue to progress the Goulamina Project towards spodumene concentrate production over 2 stages. DSO also presents an opportunity for us to optimise our logistics solution as we scale up Goulamina, further de-risking the project’s development.”
Leo Lithium is an ASX-listed explorer focused on developing the Goulamina Lithium Project in Mali. The company says the project will be the first of its kind in West Africa when production begins in the first half of 2024. Additionally, the project is set to produce 506,000 tonnes per annum under stage one, increasing up to 831,000 tonnes per annum under stage two.
On 29 May 2023, Leo Lithium executed a strategic placement with Ganfeng to raise $106.1 million. Proceeds from the strategic placement will ensure Leo Lithium is fully funded for its share of Goulamina stage one development and operational ramp-up costs. Additionally, Leo is well-positioned to progress its various co-commitments with Ganfeng as part of the cooperation agreement.
Write to Harry Mulholland at Mining.com.au
Images: Leo Lithium Ltd