Exploration junior Birimian (ASX: BGS) has released a maiden ore reserve at its wholly-owned Goulamina lithium project in southern Mali, based on the findings of an updated pre-feasibility study completed this month.
The high-grade project, situated in Mali’s Bougouni district, is estimated to contain a reserve of more than 31 million tonnes grading 1.56% lithium oxide – enough to support a mining operation for an initial 16 years at a production rate of 2 million tonnes per year.
The mine plan associated with the maiden reserve assumes a two-stage open cut operation to minimise initial strip ratios and improve project economics.
The plan will be subject to further optimisation as part of the project’s final feasibility study.
Birimian said another 59.5Mt of inferred resource at Goulamina remains available for potential upgrade to indicated mineral resource status and possible subsequent conversion to ore reserve.
“The maiden reserve and the upside demonstrated by [our] increased mineral resource positions Goulamina as one of the world’s leading hard-rock lithium projects,” said chief executive officer Greg Walker.
“We look forward to rapidly advancing this project towards development, while further expanding those resources.”
The Goulamina project is located on the Torakoro permit, which covers an area of 100 square kilometres in southern Mali, approximately 150km south of the country’s capital Bamako and 50km west of the Bougouni township.
The deposit is hosted in a series of near-vertical spodumene-rich pegmatites, trending north-northwest and measuring up to 70m in true width.
The pegmatite system dips steeply to the southeast and occurs extensively, having so far been identified over a length of more than 2.5km and a width of more than 1.4km.
PFS supports a large-scale open cut mine
Birimian said an updated feasibility study at Goulamina completed this month supports a large-scale conventional open pit mine, demonstrating “excellent project economics and significant potential for further upside”.
The project’s recommended development scenario comprises a low-cost, hard rock operation with annual concentrate production of 362,000t per year of 6% lithium spodumene concentrate, or 53,704t of lithium carbonate equivalent.
A program of infill and extension drilling has been scheduled for late 2018 to increase current ore reserves, with resource extension and definition drilling to be carried out at other identified pegmatite systems within the tenement to increase the current mineral resource base and extend the mine’s life.
Meeting global lithium demand
Robust demand and constrained supply have led to increased lithium prices in recent years, driven primarily by the uptake of lithium batteries for electric cars and static storage.
Mr Walker said the Goulamina project is well positioned to capitalise on current demand and forecast global production requirements.
“The outstanding financial projections for this project, together with its high-grade, low-cost and straightforward mining, establishes Goulamina as an exceptional lithium project of global significance,” he said.
At midday, Birimian’s share price was up 0.93% to $0.54.