The Bald Hill Project is very much in the news following its announcement that it has started producing lithium concentrate. Mark Calderwood, MD of Tawana Resources, gave some insights into the operations and prospects in an interview with Sky Business in Australia on 15 March 2018.
Edited excerpts of the TV interview:
Q: Could you just give us the details of what you've announced today, and how how close you are to getting this out of the ground and on to market?
A: Yesterday we announced ore commissioning so we're starting to produce our first concentrates and next month, end of next month, we expect to ship from Esperance our first 10,000 tonne parcel to China where all the lithium concentrates are converted.
Q: Congratulations, looks like you guys are going to be the first to ship to China from this lot of Australian miners -- it's been a bit of a race. How are your costs going on-site now and how do you expect your costs in the next year to be?
A: We're still commissioning the plant so within a few months we should be producing for this year at the cost of about US$550 a tonne. We're selling for US$880. Next year, those costs should drop down to, I believe, below half the sale price, so reasonable margins.
These deposits are running at a gold equivalent -- for those gold followers -- of four grams per tonne, five grams per tonne equivalent, so there's a bit of margin.
Click to watch the TV interview -->
Q: Can you just give us some indication as to the estimated mine life?
A: At the moment the official mine life is three and a half years but we'll put out a new reserve soon and and that'll change significantly and we've only done a year's exploration drilling.
We've probably got a decade of drilling ahead of us, we're going to have some pretty significant resource and reserve upgrades over the next twelve months or two years.
Q: Mark, you've got good secure tenements over there in the West?
A: Yes, that's why Australia will remain one of the world's biggest lithium producers because the end users like the fact that it's coming from a stable country like Australia. We've got about a 1,500 sq km landholding, so very large.