One of the newest lithium producers on the block Tawana Resources (ASX: TAW) has posted a 105% increase to its contained lithium reserves at its 50%-owned flagship Bald Hill lithium-tantalum project in Western Australia’s eastern goldfields, with the increased reserve now underpinning an initial nine-year mine life at the current processing rate.
The 105% surge is on the estimate released in latter half of last year with the new reserve now 11.3 million tonnes grading 1.01% lithium and 160 parts per million tantalum for 114,100 tonnes in contained lithium and 4 million pounds of contained tantalum.
Meanwhile, the contained lithium in the upgraded resource is 55% higher, with the new resource now: 26.5Mt grading 0.96% lithium and 149ppm tantalum for 255,200t of contained lithium and 8.6Mlb of contained tantalum.
Additionally, with the ongoing infill drilling program, further upgrades are targeted for later this year.
According to Tawana, due to continued strong market demand and efficient processing economics, it is evaluating options with its joint venture partner Alliance Mineral Assets (SGX: 40F) to expand the operation.
“The increased reserves along with the potential for additional reserves resulting from infill drilling of inferred material, provide strong support for significantly increasing throughput rates,” Tawana managing director Mark Calderwood said.
“We are actively reviewing the options to best increase throughput in the existing plant and/or add an additional dense media separation circuit and fines circuit,” he said.
Mr Calderwood added the company had received “strong interest” from several potential offtake parties regarding its Bald Hill lithium concentrate.
Currently, the lithium offtake is tied up with Burwill Holdings to purchase 6% lithium concentrate for the next five years.
Bald Hill lithium-tantalum operation
First concentrate was produced from Bald Hill in March this year, with ramp up achieving 75% of capacity in its second month and lithium and tantalum recoveries “exceeding” initial expectations.
During its first month in operation, throughput was more than 122% higher than anticipated at 50,042t, while the second month’s throughput was 67% higher than budgeted at 75,612t.
Two maiden concentrate shipments were made last month with the next shipment due either the end of June or early July.
In addition to achieving far higher throughput than budgeted, the average grade of the spodumene concentrate in the maiden shipment exceeded expectations at 6.37%, while the second shipment also averaged above 6% lithium.
The Bald Hill project area encompasses 774 square kilometres and hosts “numerous” untested drill targets that will be explored within the next six months.