• Lithium producer SQM flags humongous $US800m profit for Q1 alone
  • Marquee has kicked off drilling at the Kibby Lithium Project in Nevada
  • Critical Resources intersected more thick visual spodumene at Mavis Lakes

 All your ASX lithium news for Friday, May 20

 

Chilean lithium producer and miner Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile (NYSE:SQM) just released its Q1 profit and wowzers, it is huge.

The company saw an t4nfold increase in profit to $US800m which it put down to rising lithium prices and a 59% increase in sales volume.

Which led analysts to question how the company will spend all its cash in the coming year?

Word on the street (and by street I mean S&P Global) is that the company could be planning to further expand its operations to keep up with demand.

“I don’t want to announce a new increase in capacity every single quarter … At least give me a couple of quarters before announcing a new increase,” CEO Ricardo Ramos said in a conference call.

The company is currently ramping up production to 180,000 mt/year of lithium carbonate and 30,000 mt/year of lithium hydroxide from mid-2022.

That’s a threefold increase in output from 2018.

And the plan is to expand to 210,000 mt/year of lithium carbonate and 40,000 mt/year of lithium hydroxide from next year.

To put that in context, the global lithium market expected to grow by 30% this year and is expected to reach 1 million mt annually by 2025.

 

 

Ramos also said the company is pushing to double the capacity of its Mt Holland lithium hydroxide project, currently under construction in Western Australia, to 100,000 mt/year.

The company is also looking at possible joint ventures with South Korea’s LG to recycle lithium or produce battery components in Chile or abroad, with preliminary results expected next month – and would also consider acquisitions if it came across a project which made the right fit, Ramos said.

 

Here’s how ASX lithium stocks were tracking today:

Lithium stocks missing from our list? Shoot a friendly mail to [email protected]

 

A solid 70 stocks were in the green today, with 36 flatlining and 17 in the red.

 

Who’s got news out today?

MARQUEE RESOURCES (ASX:MQR)

MQR has kicked off its 2 stage, 3,000m drilling program at the Kibby Lithium Project in Nevada.

The objective of the drill program is to delineate a lithium-enriched brine aquifer deposit thats is amenable to mining, using wells to extract brine for processing to a saleable lithium hydroxide monohydrate product.

And the project is fully permitted for water extraction for the use of brine processing and production of lithium compounds should a large-scale brine and clay lithium deposit be identified.

 

CRITICAL RESOURCES (ASX:CRR)

The company continues to extend the Pegmatite 6 zone at its Mavis Lakes lithium project in Ontario after step-out drilling intersected more thick visual spodumene.

Hole 14 intersected 17.5m of spodumene from a down-hole depth of 143.25m while Hole 15 returning 9.7m of spodumene from 129.1m.

CRR has now extended the current 5,000m program to about 10,000m with 28 new targets identified – 11 of them ranked as “high priority”.

 

NOVA MINERALS (ASX:NVA)

Nova has received the first results from its first drill tests from the Grass River Pegmatite (GRP) dyke at its Snow Lake Lithium project in Canada, with hole GPR-003 returning 3.35% Li2O over three meters.

Current drilling will continue to focus on delineating the geometry of the GRP dyke and data from this drill campaign will be included in Snow Lake Lithium’s next resource update.

 

IGO (ASX:IGO)

The company hit a major milestone for its lithium joint venture with Tianqi Lithium Corporation, producing battery grade lithium hydroxide from its Kwinana refinery today.

“Vertical integration into downstream processing is a key plank in IGO’s strategy and we are proud to be involved in the first production of lithium hydroxide in commercial quantities in Australia,” IGO MD and CEO Peter Bradford says.

“The joint venture’s interest in both the upstream mining asset at Greenbushes and the downstream refinery at Kwinana is emerging as a globally significant, integrated lithium business.”

But it wasn’t a smooth road to get there, with Tianqi facing extensive cost blowouts and delays.

The next step in the plant’s ramp-up process is the product qualification process with offtake customers, which will be completed over the next four to eight months.