RESEARCH

Revealed: Australia's top mining development projects

AUSTRALIA'S best mining development projects are revealed in a new report – with lithium assets in Western Australia taking the top spots.

Kathleen Valley

Kathleen Valley

Australia's best mining projects are revealed in a new report - with lithium assets in Western Australia taking the top spots.

Mining Journal Intelligence's (MJI) Project Pipeline Handbook 2023 presents our pick of the 50 best mining projects globally, selected using a unique, objective scoring method.

Our evaluation process involves collecting 25 key data points from economic studies - ranging from the scoping to feasibility stages - as they are published and feeding the information into our system, which calculates a score out of 100.

Projects are assessed across 13 metrics in six categories - Economics, Jurisdiction, Confidence, Financeability, Engineering/metallurgy, and Geology.

Australia's top-ranked projects

This year, eight of the top 50 are Australian projects, with combined initial capex of US$1.47 billion.

Liontown Resources' Kathleen Valley lithium project in Western Australia is the country's top-scoring asset, at 89 - and second globally after Skeena Resources' Eskay Creek gold asset in Canada, which scored 90.

Kathleen Valley scored full marks (10 out of 10) in Economics and Financeability, along with 9.3 in the Confidence category, based on an assessment of a 2021 feasibility study.

The project is expected to supply about 500,000tpa of 6% lithium oxide concentrate when it comes on stream in mid-2024. Initial capex estimates were bumped up to A$895 million (US$600 million) earlier in 2023, from $545 million in the feasibility study.

Despite this, Kathleen Valley's quality has not gone unnoticed in the market, with Liontown rejecting a bid for the company from Albemarle in March.

The second-highest ranked Australian project is Global Lithium Resources' Manna, another Western Australian lithium asset, which scored 87, based on data from a 2023 scoping study.

Manna also scored full marks in Economics and Financeability, with a strong showing of 8.7 in Confidence. The project will produce 221,000tpa of spodumene concentrate, with initial capex estimated at US$348 million.

Global Lithium's board has recommended that the project proceed directly to a feasibility study.

Two other Australian assets - Sheffield Resources' Thunderbird mineral sands project, VRX Silica's Muchea silica sands asset - scored over 80. Both are in Western Australia.

A further three Australian projects placed in the top 50 with scores in the 70s. The only Australian project in this year's top precious metals assets list was Focus Minerals' Coolgardie, also in Western Australia.

The report features profiles of the 50 top-scoring projects, spread over the precious metals, base metals, battery minerals, fertilisers, and bulks and other commodity classes.

The projects were the top-scoring assets in our database, which currently contains 408 projects with combined capex of US$170 billion (assets are removed when they begin production). More than 150 studies have been added since last year's handbook.

Of that US$170 billion total, Australian assets account for US$18.2 billion, the third highest figure behind Canada (US$46.9 billion) and the US (US$28.1 billion). Argentina ranks fourth at US$11.0 billion.

The Project Pipeline Handbook 2023 report is available for sale here and is free for premium subscribers.

Companies with high-scoring projects are invited to present at the handbook's sister events, Mining Journal Select and MiningNews Select. The next event takes place on September 18-19 in Perth (visit miningnewsselect.net for details).

A growing series of reports, each focused on a key discussion point for the mining sector, brought to you by the Mining News Intelligence team.

A growing series of reports, each focused on a key discussion point for the mining sector, brought to you by the Mining News Intelligence team.

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Mining Journal Intelligence Project Pipeline Handbook 2024

View our 50 top mining projects, handpicked using a unique, objective selection process from a database of 450+ global assets.

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MiningNews.net Research Report 2024

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Mining Journal Intelligence Investor Sentiment Report 2024

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Mining Journal Intelligence Mining Equities Report 2023

Access an exclusive, inside look on the quarterly mining IPOs and secondary raisings data and mining equities performance tables with an annual Stock Exchange Comparisons supplement.