By Cooper Inveen
Accra – Australia-based Atlantic Lithium expects to begin production at what would be Ghana’s first lithium mine by the second half of 2024, the company’s interim chief executive told Reuters.
Lennard Kolff said in an interview that a recent scoping study showed revenue could reach nearly $5 billion over the mine’s lifetime.
The Africa-focused exploration and development firm commenced trading shares on the Australian Securities Exchange on Monday, four years after discovering Ghana’s first commercially-viable lithium deposit less than a kilometre off its national highway.
“This is really an exceptional project, not only from an economics point of view, but a social one as well,” said Kolff, Atlantic Lithium’s lead geologist, who took the reigns as interim CEO after the sudden passing of founder Vincent Mascolo last March.
“We have a chance here to make Ghana a forerunner in the global decarbonisation race by building what could be West Africa’s first hard rock lithium project,” he added.
Lithium prices have soared above $70,000 per tonne this year, as automakers keen to shift to electric models scramble to secure supply to make batteries.
Ghana, historically one of Africa’s top gold and cocoa producers, has long sought to diversify its exports, with large swings in gross domestic product often accompanying shifts in gold or oil revenue.
Kolff believes lithium could be a partial solution.
A pre-feasibility study of the project, released last week, projected up to $4.84 billion in revenue over the site’s 12.5 year lifespan, with an initial rate of return of 224% and payback in less than five months. An updated assessment will be published early next year.
Timing is everything, however. With the price of lithium at an all-time high, the company considers itself well positioned to meet demand over a relatively short period. But that window could close sooner than expected.
“Now is the time to capitalise on higher prices in the market, because it won’t last,” Kolff said, noting that prices will inevitably decline as more high-yield lithium mines come online.
Speed is a top priority for the junior firm which, after having secured more than $100 million in funding from lithium major Piedmont, intends to submit its mining licence application in the coming days.
Barring hiccups, Atlantic Lithium hopes to have obtained its licence by this time next year, and will break ground shortly afterwards.
(Reporting by Cooper Inveen; editing by Jason Neely)