Bougouni is a hard-rock, open-pit lithium mine planned to be developed near Bougouni in southern Mali. UK-based lithium exploration and development company Kodal Minerals is the owner and developer of the proposed project.

A feasibility study based on three of the total ten identified lithium prospects in the Bougouni project area was completed in January 2020 and Kodal Minerals applied for the mining license for the project to the Mali Government in the same month.

The environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) for the Bougouni lithium project was approved by the Mali authorities in November 2019.

Targeting a 16 million tonnes (Mt) recourse base, the feasibility study predicts an annual production of 220,000 tonnes (t) of 6% grade spodumene concentrates containing 71% recoverable lithium over a mine life of 8.5 years.

Initial capital expenditure on the project is estimated to be £98.4m ($128.6m) and the mine is expected to start operations in the second half of 2021.

Location and site details

The Bougouni lithium project comprises the Kolassokoro and Madina mining concessions encompassing a total area of approximately 500km2 in the Bougouni region of Mali, approximately 180km south of the country’s capital city Bamako.

The current project design focuses on the three most advanced prospects in the project area namely, Sogola-Baoule, Ngoualana, and Boumou.

Kodal Minerals secured two new exploration licenses for Fariedele and Sogola Nord in November 2019.

The company also owns 200km2 of exploration license for the Bougouni West project which is located adjacent to Mali Lithium’s Goulamina lithium project, approximately 25km west of Kodal’s existing Bougouni lithium project.

Apart from Bougouni and Bougouni West, Kodal Minerals also owns the 109km2 Diendio lithium prospect, which is located approximately 280km south of Bamako.

A total footprint of more than 800km2 in southern Mali makes Kodal Minerals the biggest lithium developer in West Africa by acreage.

Geology and resources

The Bougouni ore body comprises pegmatites hosted in an intruded sequence of the Birimian age peltic metasediments and amphibolites of the Leo-Man Shield.

The Sogola-Baoule, Ngoualana, and Boumou prospects within the project area are estimated to contain 21.3Mt of measured and indicated ore resources grading 1.11% lithium oxide Li₂O.

Sogola-Baoule is estimated to contain 12.2Mt, while Ngoualana and Boumou are estimated to hold 5.1Mt and 4Mt measured and indicated ore resources respectively.

Mining and ore processing for the Bougouni  lithium project

The conventional open-pit mining method will be implemented for the Bougouni lithium project. The current mining plan includes four individual pits in three mining areas. Kodal Minerals proposes contract mining for the project.

Ore extraction will follow vegetation clearance and topsoil stripping. The removed topsoil will be stockpiled around the open pits.

The run-of-the-mine (ROM) ore from the open pits will be sent to a nearby processing plant of two million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) capacity. The ore will be crushed and undergo flotation to recover saleable spodumene concentrate.

Lithium off-take

Suay Chin International, a lithium and chemical trader based in Singapore, entered into an off-take agreement with Kodal Minerals to purchase spodumene concentrate from the Bougouni lithium project in March 2027.

Infrastructure facilities

The Bougouni project area can be accessed through an existing sealed road from Bamako.

Since the project is located in a remote location, internationally sourced goods, reagents, and consumables will be delivered to the site through Abidjan or San Pedro ports in Côte d'Ivoire.

Kodal Minerals also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Mali Lithium, the developer of Goulamina lithium project in the same region, to review the establishment of certain common infrastructure facilities for both the projects in January 2020.

Contractors involved

Future Minerals, a subsidiary of Kodal Minerals, will be responsible for technical services including mine planning, production scheduling, surveying, as well as for the supervision and management of contract mining operations for the Bougouni lithium project.