Commodities, Lithium, News, Production

MinRes ramps up lithium output

MinRes lithium

Mineral Resources (MinRes) continues to elevate its lithium output, with both spodumene concentrate and offshore lithium hydroxide production enjoying major boosts in the December quarter.

The diversified miner’s spodumene concentrate production at its Wodgina operation in WA increased by 43 per cent from 64,000 dry metric tonnes (dmt) in the September quarter of 2022 to 92,000dmt in the December quarter.

Under the MARBL agreement with Albemarle Corporation where MinRes has a 40 per cent stake in Wodgina, the company’s spodumene shipments increased 45 per cent quarter-on-quarter (qoq) to 38,000dmt in the three months to December 31.

As directed by Albemarle, 9000dmt of these shipments was sold at $US5131/dmt with the remaining 29,000dmt to be converted offshore by Albemarle to lithium battery chemicals.

As for lithium conversions in the December quarter, 23,000dmt of MinRes’ 40 per cent share of Wodgina spodumene production was converted offshore by Albemarle to 3096 tonnes of lithium hydroxide and carbonate. This is a 233 per cent increase on the quarter before.

Spodumene concentrate production at the Mt Marion operation was 12 per cent higher qoq, which MinRes attributed to increased mining activity and improved plant performance.

MinRes’ 51 per cent share of Mt Marion spodumene shipments increased by 5 per cent qoq to 59,000dmt, 4322 tonnes of which was converted to and sold as lithium hydroxide as part of the company’s toll-treating agreement with Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium Co.

Wodgina-based lithium hydroxide and carbonate was sold at $US51,209 per tonne for the December quarter under MinRes’ marketing agreement with Albemarle, which includes long-term offtake agreements. Mt Marion-based lithium hydroxide was sold at $US73,830 per tonne.

MinRes said the timing of Mt Marion’s production expansion to 900,000 tonnes per annum had been pushed back slightly and will commence in during April with ramp up to the full run-rate from July.

This has resulted in Mt Marion’s shipped guidance for the 2022–23 financial year (FY23) being revised down from 300,000–330,000dmt to 250,000–280,000dmt. MinRes attributed the delayed expansion to delayed supply of processing equipment and labour shortages.

MinRes said Train 1 of its Kemerton lithium hydroxide processing plant in WA was producing product that remains subject to the qualification process, with Train 2 progressing through commissioning as planned. MinRes owns 40 per cent of Kemerton, with Albemarle owning the remaining 60 per cent.

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