Assays from Global Lithium Resources’ (ASX: GL1) Manna lithium project in Western Australia show a large-scale pegmatite system that could extend the proposed mine’s decade-long life, analysts say.
A new 800-metre-long zone containing lengthy, high-grade lithium intercepts is being assessed as an extension of the Manna deposit, the Perth, Australia-based Global Lithium said in a news release on Friday.
Highlights of the assays include hole MRC0192, which cut 19 metres grading at 1.2% lithium oxide (Li2O) from 263 metres downhole; hole MRC0232, which returned 17 metres grading 1.8% Li2O from 341 metres depth; hole MRC0182, which cut 15 metres at 1.7% Li2O from 277 metres depth; and hole MRC0234, which returned 15 metres at 1.7% Li2O from 355 metres downhole.
Manna could be developed as a 10-year mine with annual throughput of 2 million tonnes to produce a total of 2.2 million tonnes 5.5% spodumene concentrate, according to a scoping study issued last month. The operating cost would be US$688 per tonne, it said.
“If additional ore can be delineated, the company could target higher grade zones, lower strip ratios or extend the mine life as it optimizes the project,” Canaccord Genuity analyst Timothy Hoff wrote in a note on Friday. “We view the drill results as a strong indication of the potential at Manna to deliver additional high-grade ore to the mine plan.”
Manna has an indicated resource of 18.5 million tonnes grading at 1% Li2O and 45 tantalum oxide parts per million (ppm), according to a report from Feb. 2022. The inferred resource is 9.9 million tonnes grading at 1.1% Li2O and 49 tantalum oxide ppm. Global is planning an interim resource upgrade using the remaining assay results from the 2022 drilling program.
“These results have increased our confidence that this new area could potentially hold significant tonnes,” Stuart Peterson, general manager of exploration at Global Lithium, said in the release. “Our team continues to work hard to understand the extent of the possible strike length of the deposit outside of our current resource estimate.”
The company is planning a 35,000-metre drilling program this year to drill out and define new prospective areas within Manna. New regional targets will be drill tested to depth for possible additional spodumene pegmatites, the company said.
“It’s important to note that everything outside the current pit shell outline is not included in the scoping study numbers, this includes all of the north-eastern extension,” the company said.
Global says work on obtaining environmental approvals and the mining lease for the project “are on a critical path.” The company estimates it will be able to obtain works approvals for project by mid-next year.
The project has a net present value of A$2.8 billion ($2.6 billion) at an 8% discount rate, according to the scoping study. It shows an internal rate of return of 103% with a 15-month payback period.
Global Lithium says it will consider funding the project using a combination of debt, equity and prepaid offtake.
“Given the scale of the operation, the project is expected to generate substantial free cash flow per year to service debt, which will enhance the debt capacity of the project, Global said last month. “As a result, a greater percentage of debt funding may be achievable when compared to other commodities for a similar sized project.”