Western Lithium USA Corp. has received a positive, NI 43-101 compliant prefeasibility study for its Kings Valley lithium project in northern Nevada from a collaboration of firms that included Tetra Tech, Reserva International, and K-UTEC AG Salt Technologies.
The study evaluates two scenarios: a startup scenario based on mining and processing ore at a design throughput rate of 2,100 mt/d, producing 13,000 mt/y of lithium carbonate starting in 2015; and a full-production scenario to double production four years after startup to 26,000 mt/y of lithium carbonate.
Byproduct production will include 90,000 mt/y of potassium sulphate and 100,000 mt/y of sodium sulphate. Lithium ore will be extracted from an open-pit mine using a Wirtgen surface miner, and waste rock will be mined using end-dump haul trucks and hydraulic shovels. Mine life is estimated at 20 years, processing a total of 25.5 million mt of ore at an average grade of 0.40% lithium, using a 0.32% lithium cut-off grade.
The Kings Valley study demonstrates that the project could produce lithium carbonate at an estimated average cash cost of $968/mt, net of byproduct credits, once full production of 26,000 mt/y is achieved. Initial startup capital, including contingency, is expected to be approximately $248 million. Incremental development capital to double lithium carbonate production to 26,000 mt/y is estimated at approximately $161 million. Sustaining capital of $40 million, including contingency, is primarily composed of surface mine equipment, expansions of dry stack tailings and surface water management, and mine closure.
Upcoming milestones for the project include submission of the Plan of Operations to the Bureau of Land Management during the first quarter of 2012, which will initiate the formal permitting process; starting construction of a lithium carbonate demonstration plant; and starting work on a definitive feasibility study.
The Kings Valley project is located in Humboldt county, Nevada, approximately 100 km north-northwest of Winnemucca along U.S. Highway 95 to Orovada and then 40 km west-northwest of Orovada on paved State Highway 293. The project benefits from established infrastructure, including road access, power supply, and a local water source.
Western Lithium was spun out from Concordia Resource Corp., formerly Western Uranium Corp., in July 2008, and Concordia Resource Corp. retains an approximate 28.5% interest in the company.