The Kathleen Valley Lithium Project is located nearly 60km north of Leinster in an established mining region of Western Australia.
The project is 100% owned by Liontown Resources Limited.
Kathleen Valley is considered a Tier-1 battery metals asset with one of the largest and highest-grade hard rock lithium deposits in the world.
The project is expected to deliver around 500,000 tonnes of 6% lithium oxide concentrate annually. Additionally, the site will produce Tantalum Pentoxide, which is used in electronics and optics manufacturing.
A Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) for Kathleen Valley Project was released in November 2021, followed by the Final Investment Decision (FID) in June 2022.
The first production from the project is expected in the second quarter of 2024.
Location and Site Details
Kathleen Valley Lithium Project is located 680km northeast of Perth, the capital of Western Australia.
The project can be accessed through sealed highways, which in turn connect with mineral exporting ports at Geraldton and Esperance.
The site also features a power line, a natural gas pipeline, and existing mine camps with sealed airstrips that can accommodate large passenger aircraft.
The Kathleen Valley Project process plant will feature a mineral processing concentrator along with other associated services.
The process facilities of the plant will include a two-stage crushing circuit that can process 4Mtpa; Semi Autogenous Grinding (SAG) Milling; magnetic separation capabilities; flotation, thickening and filtration to produce Li2O concentrate; and paste fill & tailing disposal.
Geology and Mineralisation
Kathleen Valley is situated on the western edge of the Norseman-Wiluna Greenstone Belt within the Archaean Yilgarn Craton. It primarily features mafic and ultramafic volcanic rocks as well as considerable volumes of clastic sedimentary rock and other formations.
The spodumene-bearing pegmatites, which form part of a series of lithium-cesium-tantalum (LCT)-type rare metal pegmatites intruding the mafic and sedimentary rocks, contain lithium mineralisation.
Mineralised pegmatites were found across a strike length of 1.7km and to a vertical depth of 600m.
Liontown Resources have modelled 20 mineralised pegmatites at the project in two, outcropping pegmatite swarms – a shallowly-dipping north-eastern swarm and a steeper dipping south-western swarm at Mt Mann.
The north-eastern swarm hosts around 90% of the pegmatites.
As of April 2021, the project has a current mineral resource estimate of 156Mt at 1.4% Lithium Oxide (Li2O) and 130ppm Tantalum Pentoxide (Ta2O5). More than 80% of the mineral resource is classified as measured or indicated as per the 2021 report.
Kathleen Valley is expected to have a mine life of 23 years, considering an ore reserve of 68.5Mt at 1.34% Li2O and 120ppm Ta2O5.
Liontown Resources plans to employ both open-pit and underground mining operations to extract the ore reserves.
However, the operations will primarily be underground to gain direct access to higher grade mineralisation as well as minimise waste and impact on the environment.
Initially, the plan aims for a production of up to 500ktpa of spodumene concentrate at 2.5Mtpa. A planned 4Mtpa expansion in year six is expected to increase output to around 700ktpa spodumene concentrate.
The deposit will be sourced from two small open pits. From the second year, the ore will be sourced from underground.
The underground mine will be divided into two distinct mining areas- Mt Mann Vertical (MMV) and North-West Flats (NMF). The two areas will feature one small open pit each.
A conventional open-pit mining that will involve deploying excavators and rigid dump trucks will be used as the preferred mining method.
The mining operations will be carried out by contractors, while Liontown’s team will be in charge of supervision, grade control, and planning.
The company will mine two small starter pits at a 0.7-0.75% Li2O cutoff grade, which were identified as the ideal practical and economic outcome. The underground would target higher grades areas in the MMV and NWF at a 1.5% Li2O cut-off.
The underground mines will also employ conventional mechanised mining techniques and will operate independently. A connection between the two will be established in the third year of production.
Several consultants such as ZOOID, Optiro, Snowden Mining Industry Consultants, ALS Metallurgy Process Testwork and others were associated with the Kathleen Valley DFS testwork programme and study compilation.
Peter O’Bryan and Associates (POBA) conducted a geotechnical review for the open-pit and underground mining study.
Liontown Resources contracted Metso-Outotec in January 2022 for the design, fabrication and delivery of a SAG Mill for the project.
In July 2022, Lycopodium Minerals was hired to carry out engineering, procurement, construction management (EPCM) and commissioning services for Kathleen Valley Project.
Liontown has also signed three foundational offtake agreements with Ford Motor Company, Tesla and LG Energy Solution.