Neometals’ lithium spodumene production up slightly in Q3 2018

Australian lithium spodumene miner Neometals reported that it had achieved slightly higher production volumes in the July-September quarter in a results statement published on Wednesday October 31.

Neometals increased its output by about 1.68%, producing 111,023 tonnes of lithium spodumene in the quarter, compared with 109,183 tonnes produced in April-June.

Output of higher-grade lithium spodumene (min 6% Li2O) increased to 77,000 tonnes, or 69% of all the lithium spodumene produced.

Meanwhile, 34,000 tonnes of the material produced was lower-grade lithium spodumene with min 4% Li2O content.

Shipments of lithium spodumene to Chinese lithium producer Ganfeng were reduced in the third quarter by about 4% to 91,313 tonnes of the total lithium spodumene exported, compared with 95,133 tonnes exported in the second quarter.

The price achieved for min 6% Li2O material was $961 per tonne cfr.

Fastmarkets most recently assessed the price of lithium spodumene, cif China, down by 6.25% to $700-800 per tonne on October 31, from $750-850 per tonne on September 26.

The main reason for the decline in the price, according to sources in the lithium market, was the lower price for battery-grade lithium carbonate in China, since lithium converters and producers in China which primarily use lithium spodumene from Australia have had to decrease their prices significantly since the beginning of the year.

So far this year, Fastmarkets’ assessment of the spot price for battery-grade lithium carbonate, min 99.5% Li2CO3, ex-works China, has fallen by about 50% to 74,000-83,000 yuan ($10,724-12,029) per tonne on November 1 from 158,000-160,000 yuan per tonne on January 4.

Construction of Neometals’ Kalgoorlie lithium refinery in Australia remains on track, with the conclusion of the front-end engineering and design study expected by December 2018.

The Kalgoorlie refinery is being designed for production capacity of 10,000 tonnes per year of lithium hydroxide, and commissioning is expected to begin by mid-2021.

The company added that an additional flotation concentrator circuit, to upgrade all mined material into min 6% Li2O, was also on track, and was expected to begin commissioning late this year.

*All lithium carbonate, hydroxide and spodumene prices are available in our Battery Raw Materials Market Tracker. Get a sample of the report here.