Kalgoorlie Miner

Lithium refiner to target non-Chinese battery markets

- Josh Chiat

Neometals is targeting internatio­nal markets outside China for product from its proposed Kalgoorlie lithium refinery.

Echoing comments made this month by Galaxy Resources boss Anthony Tse, Neometals managing director Chris Reed said the non-Chinese market for lithium chemicals was strong in response to demand from electric vehicle makers at a time lithium carbonate prices in China are falling.

Mr Reed said he remains confident the plant, which if approved will be built just 5km outside of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, will be a longterm business opportunit­y for the mining company turned battery metals technologi­st.

“The Chinese market has come off but the internatio­nal market continues to be pretty strong because it’s very hard for new operations to be ramped up outside of China,” he said.

“Given that our Kalgoorlie lithium refinery project proposes to supply the market outside of China you’d have to say it’s a good longterm business for us.

“You only have to have a look at Tianqi doing the same thing, Albemarle are doing the same thing and SQM want to do the same thing, and that is to convert rocks into lithium hydroxide in Western Australia.”

Neometals banked its first $6.2 million profit distributi­on from its minority-owned Mt Marion lithium mine, 40km south-west of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, yesterday.

Neometals owns 13.8 per cent of the mine’s holding company Reed Industrial Minerals, with Chris Ellison’s Mineral Resources and Chinese lithium converting giant Ganfeng holding 43.1 per cent each, translatin­g to a $45 million payout on a 100 per cent basis.

“What it says is that Mt Marion is a very healthy mine making very good profit,” Mr Reed said.

“For us a healthy Mt Marion means a very long life and a longterm supply for our downstream­ing ambitions.”

The refinery is currently in the study phase, with an investment decision expected in mid-2019.

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