Australia-based Leo Lithium has awarded a A$22.7m ($15.18m) contract to Lycopodium Minerals pertaining to the Goulamina lithium project in Mali.

Under the contract, Lycopodium Minerals will provide engineering and procurement (EP) and associated project management (PM) services for stage 1 of the lithium project.

The Goulamina project is located in the Bougouni region of southern Mali, about 150km south of the capital city of Bamako. It is expected to begin production in the first half of 2024.

Lycopodium Minerals completed the definitive feasibility study (DFS) for the Goulamina lithium project in 2019, and also provided a DFS update in December 2021.

Lycopodium Minerals managing director Peter De Leo said: “We are extremely pleased to be given this opportunity to continue to support Leo Lithium in the development of this exciting project, which will be West Africa’s first operating lithium mine.

“This award further strengthens our position as a leading partner in the design and delivery of battery metals projects in Africa and Australia.”

According to Lycopodium Minerals, engineering, design, procurement, and contracting activities of the projects advanced throughout this year, thereby enabling it to move seamlessly into the execution stage.

Leo Lithium said that by the end of last month, 37% of the activities were completed. These included awarding of contracts for important long-lead packages including the ball mill and crushers, which are currently being manufactured.

Leo Lithium managing director Simon Hay said: “We are pleased to continue the ongoing relationship with Lycopodium who is a leader in engineering and project delivery in West Africa.

“Lycopodium has been active on the execute phase of the Goulamina Project since the beginning of the year with initial engineering and longlead procurement advancing on plan to meet our project schedule.

“The awarding of the EP and PM contract now allows us to form an integrated team with shared objectives to advance Goulamina safely, on budget and on schedule as we strive toward our goal of being West Africa’s first spodumene producer.”

The contract is expected to be executed over the coming 18 to 24 months.