Liontown Resources (ASX: LTR) has produced the third successive mineral resource upgrade at its Kathleen Valley project in Western Australia, with the resource now standing at 156 million tonnes at 1.4% lithium oxide.
This latest upgrade shows Liontown’s resource, in terms of tonnes and contained lithium, has increased 636% since the maiden measured, indicated and inferred mineral resource of 21.2Mt at 1.4% lithium was reported in September 2018.
The resource also includes tantalum oxide at an average grade of 130 parts per million.
Liontown said the results confirmed Kathleen Valley as a “world class” lithium deposit.
Kathleen Valley is located on the western edge of the Norseman-Wiluna greenstone belt within the Yilgarn Craton and lies about 440km north of Kalgoorlie.
The lithium mineralisation is hosted within spodumene-bearing pegmatites.
Potential for long-life mining operation
Liontown managing director David Richards said the continued growth in the Kathleen Valley resource reflected both the quality and the scale of the deposit and the outstanding success of the company’s drilling programs.
“This latest resource update clearly establishes Kathleen Valley as one of the world’s premier hard-rock lithium deposits, with clear potential to underpin a long-life mining operation,” he said.
These results will be factored into an updated pre-feasibility study, with the potential combination of open pit and underground mining showing it may be possible to unlock the full potential of the resource.
Given the drilling’s definition of significant high-grade mineralisation at depth, Liontown is investigating the underground extraction of portions of the resource that may enable higher grade ore — about 1.5% lithium oxide — to be fed into the planned processing plant.
Among other benefits, this could increase operating margins.
The updated study will also include metallurgical test work and other technical studies, carried out to optimise the project’s development.
Project close to existing transport and other infrastructure
The lithium has been intersected over 1.7km of strike and to a vertical depth of 600m and is located largely on granted mining leases.
Kathleen Valley is within an established, well-serviced mining district and close to existing transport, power and camp infrastructure.
Using the benchmark lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) measure, the resource contains 5.3Mt of LCE. The company says this underlines the project as “one of the few undeveloped, significant lithium projects of scale being progressed towards development in Australia”.