Lithium re­finer to tar­get non-Chi­nese bat­tery mar­kets

Kalgoorlie Miner - - BUSINESS - 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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