Kodal Minerals plc, the mineral development and exploration company focused on its Bougouni Lithium Project (‘Bougouni’, the ‘Bougouni Project’ or the ‘Project’) in southern Mali, announces its unaudited interim results for the six months ended 30 September 2022.
Bougouni Lithium Project
The Company has continued to look for and review opportunities to accelerate the development of the Bougouni Project so that it can take advantage of the near-term high price environment in the lithium market.
To this end, the Company is proposing the development of the Project through a faster and lower capital cost dense media separation (“DMS”) processing plant option, with lithium ore sourced from the Ngoualana deposit which, due to its coarse grain properties, delivers high DMS recoveries.
Once financing is secured, the Kodal team will progress to construction and commissioning of the plant. The expected capital cost of the DMS plant of US$65 million compares favourably to the previously published Feasibility Study update in June 2022 which showed a capital cost of over US$154 million for operations based on a flotation plant.
The DMS strategy allows the Company to commence production more quickly once sufficient funding is secured, exploiting the near-term advantage of high lithium concentrate prices, to generate positive cash flows which can be used to fund a downstream flotation plant in the future.
Highlights of the DMS option include:
· Capital development cost for the DMS plant and all associated infrastructure and commencement of mining is estimated at US$65 million, generating an estimated NPV7% of approximately US$557 million (US$420 million post-tax) and, based on full equity funding, a short payback of 2 months from commencement of operations.
· The DMS option is based on:
o processing material from the Ngoualana deposit feeding 1Mtpa of lithium ore to a DMS processing plant
o utilising a conventional circuit to maximise spodumene recovery of over 130,000 tonnes per annum of spodumene concentrate
o an initial 4 year mine life.
· DMS operation revenue forecast to exceed US$1.05 billion in less than 4 years, based on prevailing broker consensus pricing averaging US$2,080 per tonne (FOB basis).
· The DMS operation targets production of a 5.5% Li2O spodumene concentrate product which is consistent with other producers currently active in the market.
· Future expansion of the Project is expected to continue with the construction and commissioning of a down-stream flotation plant expected to be supported by utilising the DMS plant cash flows in order to exploit the resources at Sogola-Baoulé and Boumou, as well as longer term exploration prospects.
The Company is finalising the engineering and environmental work in connection with the DMS option to support discussions to secure the funding for the development of the Bougouni lithium project. This work will be incorporated in the formal notice to be submitted to the Mali Government for a variation of commencement of mining (“Change Notification”) to be submitted in early 2023 to formally update the Government on the changes associated with the DMS option. The Company has completed the DMS plant designs, has completed the tailing storage and concept designs and is finalising the environmental studies for the variation documents.
The Company is currently undertaking metallurgical testing at the Nagrom testwork laboratory in Perth, Western Australia, with a programme of confirmatory testwork to provide additional data related to the ore characteristics and DMS recovery from the Ngoualana deposit.
Kodal will progress the formulation of the Change Notification for submission to the Mali authorities in the coming weeks. It is anticipated that the Change Notification will be submitted to the Direction Nationale de la Geologies et des Mines (DNGM) early in the new year.
The exploration upside at Bougouni is positive, with a number of drill ready targets providing opportunity to expand on both the DMS material and flotation material. Post period, Kodal announced the appointment of Mr George Michaelides as Exploration Manager in Mali, to lead the pre-development site activities, with a focus on investigating opportunities for increasing the Company’s lithium resources. George led the exploration activities which discovered the lithium resources at Bougouni, and after three-years at Kinross, has returned to Kodal.
The Ngoualana, Sogola-Baoulé and Boumou pegmatite veins comprise the current Mineral Resources at Bougouni but represent only three of the ten lithium spodumene prospects identified to date and highlights the opportunity for the Company to expand lithium resources across the Company’s 350 sq. km project area.
The Company is the 100% owner of the Bougouni Project in Mali consisting of granted concessions. The concessions include the Mining Licence granted under the 2019 Mining Code and extending over 97.2 sq. km covering the proposed open-pit mining and processing operation at Bougouni (as announced on 8 November 2021). The Mining Code has provision for a notification of change which will be required for obtaining approval for the DMS option. Kodal has conducted initial discussions with the DNGM to seek their endorsement for the change and has commenced formulating the notification.
On 28 November 2022, the Mali Ministry of Mines announced that it has suspended the allocation of new mining titles. This does not impact the Company as all mining licences have been granted and are in good standing. The Company is free to continue with its development activities unencumbered.
Kodal has maintained the tenure of all other gold project in Mali and Cote d’Ivoire in good standing and continues to evaluate exploration programmes to advance these projects.
Bernard Aylward, CEO of Kodal Minerals, said: “Kodal has continued to undertake studies and engineering work to optimise the development of the Bougouni project and provide the Company with the opportunity to take advantage of the high demand, high price lithium market currently prevailing. By opting for the construction of the DMS plant as the starting plant, we are increasing our chances of achieving our goal of becoming the first operational lithium mine in Mali. In addition, the reduced capital, and operating costs of the DMS development option provides Kodal with a near-term solution to take full advantage of the continuing buoyant lithium market once sufficient funding is secured.”
“To support the Company’s fast track development timeline, Kodal has commenced building the team that will drive the development and has re-appointed experienced Exploration Manager George Michaelides. George was responsible for the Company’s initial exploration and drilling programmes at Bougouni, from which our 21.3Mt Resource was defined. George will be tasked with expanding our resource base with the objective of extending the life of mine.
“The lithium market remains strong and our Bougouni Project continues to attract considerable interest. The DMS development option has been well received by the wider market, and Kodal is progressing discussions with market operators and potential financing partners. The Company will provide further updates as discussions progress.”
I am pleased to report that Kodal is in a very strong position as it continues its strategy for the fast-track development of the flagship Bougouni Project. The Company has demonstrated an extremely attractive economic outcome with the proposed DMS development of the Bougouni Project and is continuing with negotiations for financing and ongoing support of the development. The Company is very well placed to become a significant producer of high demand lithium spodumene concentrate as the Bougouni Project has all necessary permits in place and the Company has maintained the continued support of the Mali Government and regional officials for the mine’s development.
The very strong lithium market has continued throughout 2022 with the current broker consensus for the sale price of spodumene concentrate at above US$5,000 per tonne. This compares favourably with the life of mine average concentrate price used in the assessment of the fast track DMS proposal of US$2,080/t for spodumene concentrate. The Company has always maintained a conservative approach in its studies to ensure that the proposed development is viable and provide confidence in meeting and potentially exceeding our economic targets.
In the 6-month period ended 30 September 2022, the Group has recorded a loss of £490,856 compared to losses of £373,000 for the 6 months to 30 September 2020 and £903,000 for the year to 31 March 2022.
Cash balances as at 30 September 2022 were £2,628,334 compared to £3,085,000 at 30 September 2021 and £1,046,000 at 31 March 2022. Cash as at 21 December 2022 was £1,821,000.
Kodal continues to monitor the lithium market and we note the strong increase in demand for our proposed product that is underpinned by a supply deficit as well as a major increase in the battery market and in particular the uptake of electric vehicles (“EVs”). The consensus view is that this supply gap will remain for the next few years and Kodal is well positioned to enter the market in a very positive phase.
I look forward to reporting on our progress in the Company’s Annual Report for the year ending 31 March 2023.
For further information, please visit www.kodalminerals.com or contact the following:
Kodal Minerals plc
Bernard Aylward, CEO
Tel: +61 418 943 345
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