The Northern Territory Government has approved a mine management plan for the Finniss lithium project owned by Core Lithium (ASX: CXO).
The plan is the final regulatory hurdle required to commence onsite activities and approval places the company on track to be construction-ready later this year.
It marks the achievement of another key milestone in Core’s plans to build Australia’s first lithium mine and production facility outside of Western Australia.
Managing director Stephen Biggins said Core is now a step closer to starting a project which will deliver “significant prosperity” to northern Australia.
“Finniss opens the door for the Northern Territory to be a high-quality supplier of lithium to the world’s growing electric vehicle market,” he said.
“It will also play a critical role in supporting the world’s response to reducing emissions and managing climate change risk.”
Lithium is the core element in batteries used to power electric vehicles.
Finniss boasts world-class, high-grade and high-quality lithium suitable for this use and for other renewable energy sources.
The first three years of the project are expected to inject over half a billion dollars into the Territory’s economy and create around 200 jobs for locals within an hour of Darwin.
Mr Biggins said Finniss would be positioned at the “front of the line” of new global lithium supply as the electric vehicle manufacturing industry recovers post COVID-19.
The project lies within 25 kilometres of port, power station, gas and rail infrastructure and one hour by sealed road to the Port of Darwin, which is currently Australia’s nearest port facility to Asia.
“Given its low start-up capital requirements, existing infrastructure and proximity to offshore transport services, Finniss is well placed to meet the world’s growing demand for lithium batteries for electric vehicles and other renewable technologies that the world is gravitating towards,” he said.
Core is currently working towards delivery of an updated feasibility study for Finniss, underpinned by the results of a recent large-scale drilling and field program which aimed to define sufficient mineral resources to materially increase mine life.
Mr Biggins said the increased mine life was expected to be attractive to potential offtake and financing partners.
“Even though COVID-19 will delay our next round of expansion drilling, our commercial and financing discussions continue, and the study update and approvals are progressing,” he said.
“We continue to work positively with our offtake partner and largest shareholder Yahua (International Investment and Development) and other strategic partners as [we] look to add additional offtake and sources of strategic finance for Finniss.”
Core recently engaged with the federal government’s Critical Minerals Facilitation Office to position itself as an independent, secure and reliable Australian supplier of critical minerals to world markets.
At midday, shares in Core were trading 54.55% higher at $0.034.