Core Lithium has secured major project status (MPS) for its fully-owned Finniss lithium project in the Northern Territory, Australia from the Australian government.

The MPS is given to projects that have strategic significance to Australia.

It gives extra support to project proponents from the Major Projects Facilitation Agency, which includes a single-entry point for approvals from the federal government. Projects with MPS also get support and coordination with state and territory approvals.

The MPS to the Finniss lithium project is for a period of three years.

The project involves the development of a mining facility near Darwin Port for producing lithium.

Finniss is anticipated to provide employment to over 360 people during construction and create more than 250 jobs during operation.

Australian Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said: “Lithium is a valuable export which will only become more important in the future, thanks to its use in a range of everyday items from electric car batteries to smart phones, pace makers and digital cameras.”

Core Lithium is expected to publish an updated definitive feasibility study (DFS) on the lithium project in the first half of this year. Following this, the company will take a final investment decision (FID) and begin construction by the year-end.

Core Lithium managing director Stephen Biggins said: “When in production, the Finniss Project will be the first Australian lithium-producing mine outside of Western Australia, with our proximity to Darwin Port – the country’s nearest port to Asia – serving as a direct route for our lithium to be processed and delivered to end users worldwide.

“This opens up a pathway for a critical minerals hub to be established in Northern Australia, along with the potential for significant associated local manufacturing opportunities.”

As per a DFS released in April 2019, Core Lithium expects to spend AUD73m ($56.46m) on the Finniss lithium project for the production of 175,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of lithium concentrate.

The project has a mineral resource of 9.63 million tonnes at 1.4% lithium oxide.

In April last year, the company secured mine management plan approval from the Northern Territory Government for the Finniss project.