Junior explorer Liontown Resources (ASX: LTR) has announced a massive 353% boost to its lithium resource at the Kathleen Valley lithium-tantalum project in Western Australia.
The company told the market today the new measured, indicated and inferred mineral resource estimate now stood at 74.9 million tonnes at 1.3% lithium oxide and 140 parts per million of tantalum pentoxide, containing 970,000t of lithium oxide, or 2.5Mt of lithium carbonate equivalent, and 23 million pounds of tantalum pentoxide.
This is a significant upgrade from the project’s maiden resource of 21.2Mt at 1.4% lithium oxide and 170ppm tantalum pentoxide, released last September.
In addition, 83% of the new resource is now classified as measured or indicated.
The updated resource incorporated the results of all drilling programs completed by Liontown since exploration began in early 2017, totalling 43,000m of reverse circulation and 4,500m diamond drilling.
This includes its recent resource expansion drilling program, which yielded many high-grade results including last month’s recorded 83m intersection grading 1.5% lithium oxide.
According to Liontown, this updated estimate positions Kathleen Valley as one of the few new, significant lithium projects of scale currently being progressed towards development in Australia over the next two to three years.
Liontown managing director David Richards said the result confirms Kathleen Valley has “all the key attributes required to underpin the development of a new long-life, high-quality Australia lithium-tantalum mining operation – grade, scale, access to infrastructure and, importantly, promising metallurgy”.
“Following the positive scoping study completed in January, we have been able to deliver a more than threefold increase in the mineral resource base after just three months of intensive drilling,” he said.
Along with being on granted mining leases and close to existing infrastructure, Mr Richards noted that the high-grade deposit’s mineralisation outcrops, meaning it should be largely amendable to open pit mining.
“The other encouraging feature of the project is that, based on the initial metallurgical results and ongoing test work, the lithium mineralisation, which is spodumene-related, is likely to be conducive to conventional processing,” he said.
Mr Richards said Liontown will continue to push ahead with feasibility studies including comprehensive metallurgical test work, mining studies, pit optimisations, and scheduling a review of infrastructure requirements and financial modelling.
The company is anticipating the release of a pre-feasibility study for the Kathleen Valley project in the 2019 fourth quarter.