Sayona Mining (ASX: SYA; OTC: SYAXF) has further advanced its planned restart of spodumene production at its North American Lithium (NAL) operation in Quebec, with approximately 30% of plant and equipment upgrades now completed. It remains on track to deliver concentrates in the first quarter of 2023.
“It is extremely pleasing to see the rapid progress at NAL as we ramp up towards the recommencement of lithium production," Sayona’s managing director Brett Lynch said. NAL currently has around 50 construction workers on‐site, with the number expected to double by September.
In June, the emerging lithium producer obtained formal approval for the restart of spodumene production at NAL, which has an established open pit mine and concentrator that the company plans to integrate with its open pit Authier project 70 km away to create a world-scale lithium hub in the Abitibi region.
Sayona expects to produce about 115,000 tonnes of spodumene concentrate (6% lithium oxide) annually over a mine life of 27 years.
Located in La Corne, Que., the NAL project was originally developed by Quebec Lithium (later RB Energy) between 2012 and 2014. The deposit was last mined in 2017, but ran into trouble with its attempt to integrate a flotaton circuit. In August 2021, Sayona acquired a 75% interest in the NAL project after its previous owner filed for creditor protection. The remaining 25% was bought by Piedmont Lithium.
So far, Sayona has committed around $100 million to the restart of operations at NAL, including plant and infrastructure upgrades to improve product quality, recovery and plant availability. Once it returns to production, NAL would be the only local supplier of spodumene concentrates in North America.
“With virtually all of the NAL operation powered by hydroelectricity, this is truly one of the world’s most sustainable lithium operations, an important ESG differentiator in an industry that aims to facilitate global decarbonization," Lynch added.
A prefeasibility study released in May confirmed the technical and economic potential for this proposed lithium hub. The PFS outlined an integrated project with an after-tax net present value (NPV) of $751 million (8% discount) and an internal rate of return (IRR) of 139%. Its capital payback is about two years.
The project economics were based on proved and probable ore reserves (JORC compliant) of 29.2 million tonnes averaging 0.96% lithium oxide. Along with an upgraded ore reserve, the concentrator mill throughput has increased to 4,200 t/d from 3,800 t/d since the acquisition in 2021.
Visit www.SayonaMining.com.au for additional information on the NAL project.