MinRes cuts lithium DSO ship­ments

Pilbara News - - News - Stu­art McKin­non

Min­eral Re­sources slashed pro­duc­tion of raw lithium ore by more than half in the Septem­ber quar­ter in line with plans to wind back ex­ports of the prod­uct ahead of a likely ces­sa­tion of ship­ping at the end of the year.

Pro­duc­tion of di­rect ship­ping ore from the Wodg­ina mine south of Port Hed­land fell to 350,000 tonnes in the re­cent quar­ter from 845,000t in the three months to the end of July, while ship­ping rates fell from 754,000t to 422,000t over the same pe­riod.

The Chris El­li­son-led com­pany flagged the slow­ing of DSO pro­duc­tion in June, say­ing it could ex­tract sig­nif­i­cantly more value from the Wodg­ina ore body by con­vert­ing it to a higher-grade lithium spo­dumene con­cen­trate.

On an an­a­lyst, in­vestor and me­dia site visit to Wodg­ina re­cently, Mr El­li­son said the com­pany had “pretty much jammed China up with” DSO.

“It cer­tainly turned us into the largest lithium units ex­porter in the world for a pe­riod. We earned an aw­ful lot of money out of it, that’s what we do,” he said.

MinRes re­cently pushed back de­liv­ery of its new $610 mil­lion, 750,000tpa lithium con­cen­trate plant by eight weeks with first pro­duc­tion now ex­pected by the end of March.

The com­pany cited the late de­liv­ery of long-lead items and con­ges­tion in Perth fab­ri­ca­tion fa­cil­i­ties as rea­sons for the de­lay.

It is also ex­pected to an­nounce soon whether it will sell a 49 per cent stake in Wodg­ina to help fund a 100,000tpa lithium hy­drox­ide plant at the site.

Mr El­li­son said the com­pany would only con­sider sell­ing a stake in Wodg­ina if it could “get the right num­ber” and a part­ner who could help with plant de­sign, prod­uct devel­op­ment or de­liv­er­ing qual­ity cus­tomers.

He in­di­cated MinRes was likely to be­gin build­ing the lithium hy­drox­ide plant next year sub­ject to board ap­proval. “It will prob­a­bly be a goer be­cause they are ex­tremely prof­itable,” Mr El­li­son said.

The com­pany re­cently up­graded the Wodg­ina re­source by 11 per cent to 259.1Mt at 1.17 per cent lithium ox­ide.

MinRes shares closed off 7¢ at $14.25 yes­ter­day.

Chris El­li­son at the un­der-con­struc­tion crush­ing fa­cil­ity at Wodg­ina.

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