Mt Holland lithium project, also known as the Earl Grey lithium project, involves the development of an open-pit lithium mine and a processing plant at Mt Holland and a refinery at Kwinana, Western Australia. It is one of the biggest undeveloped hard-rock lithium projects in Australia.

The fully-integrated lithium project will be developed and operated by Covalent Lithium (formerly Western Australia Lithium), which is a 50:50 joint venture between  Kidman Resources and Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile (SQM).

Covalent Lithium completed an integrated pre-feasibility study (IPFS) for the Mt Holland lithium project in December 2018.

The IPFS predicts an annual average production of 45,254 tonnes (t) of battery-grade lithium hydroxide over 47 years of estimated project life.

Definitive feasibility study (DFS) for the project is anticipated to be completed in the first half of 2019.

Mt Holland Lithium project development history

Melbourne-based lithium and gold development company Kidman acquired the Mt Holland project in July 2016.

SQM, one of the world’s biggest lithium producers, agreed to invest $110m to acquire 50% equity stake in the project in September 2017.

A scoping study on the Mt Holland lithium project was released in October 2017. It defined a production target of 47Mt of lithium ore grading 1.4% lithium oxide, over a 25-year period.

Mt Holland lithium project location and geology

The Earl Grey lithium deposit is located in the Goldfields region, approximately 110km south-east of Southern Cross, Western Australia.

The project area forms part of the southern section of the Archaean Southern Cross-Forrestania Greenstone Belt, which extends over 300km in Western Australia.

The mineralization at Mt Holland is hosted within lithium-bearing pegmatites.

Lithium reserves at Mt Holland

The Mt Holland lithium mine was estimated to contain 94.2 million tonnes (Mt) of proven and probable reserves grading 1.5% lithium oxide, as of December 2018.

Mining and processing for the Mt Holland lithium project

Mt Holland will be an open-cut mining operation with run-of-mine ore to be initially processed at the on-site processing plant to produce lithium concentrates.

The concentrates will be further transported to a refinery facility in the Kwinana Industrial Area in Western Australia, for the production of battery-grade refined lithium.

Covalent Lithium entered an agreement with the Western Australian Land Authority (Landcorp) to lease a 76ha site in the Kwinana Industrial Area for the refinery facility in May 2018.

The Kwinana Industrial Area possesses critical infrastructure including rail, road and port connectivity, as well as easy access to electricity and natural gas.

Off-take agreements for the Mt Holland lithium project

LG Chem, an automotive battery supplier based in Korea, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Kidman Resources in December 2018, to offtake 12kt of lithium hydroxide a year from the Mt Holland project for a period of ten years.

Tesla and Mitsui also signed off-take agreements for the Mt Holland lithium project in May and November 2018, respectively.