Emerging Australian miner Core Lithium has given the go-ahead to the Northern Territory’s first lithium project as soaring prices for the key electric-battery ingredient breathe new life into the industry.
ASX-listed Core told investors on Thursday it would begin work on the Finniss lithium project near Darwin immediately and hoped to deliver its first output of hard-rock lithium concentrate known as spodumene by the fourth quarter of financial year 2022.
“This is a significant milestone, not just for Core, but also for the Northern Territory,” Core Lithium non-executive chairman Greg English said.
“We are delighted to be developing the Territory’s first lithium project, investing in the local economy and creating hundreds of new jobs.“
Lithium prices, which tumbled sharply from 2018 amid an influx of supply outpacing demand, have been rallying significantly this year.
The commodity is a key ingredient in electric batteries used in mobile phones, laptops and, most importantly, electric vehicles (EVs). While EVs account for about 3 per cent of new sales today, uptake is lifting in China, the United States and Europe, and world governments are unleashing “green” post-pandemic stimulus packages targeting transport electrification.
Investors and analysts are showing renewed optimism about the dawn of the electric vehicle era and are betting billions on the future of lithium products.BHP, Australia’s largest resources company, has described 2020 as an “inflection point” for the shift to electric vehicles, as Elon Musk’s Tesla sold more than half a million battery-powered cars and sales in Europe more than doubled.
Core Lithium managing director Stephen Biggins said Thursday’s final investment decision (FID) for Finniss was the culmination of more than five years’ work putting together a “low-risk, capital-efficient and high-margin lithium project”.
“FID places Core firmly at the front of the line of new global lithium production just at the right time as lithium demand and prices are increasing rapidly,” he said.
Shares in the company are up 3.9 per cent to 40.5c at 1:50pm.