European Lithium, West Leederville/Australia, is expanding its portfolio in Austria: The Wolfsberg lithium project in Carinthia, which is already well advanced, will be joined by three further exploration projects in Styria (Figure 1). The company is thus taking into account the increasing demand for lithium in the coming years.
European Lithium has signed a binding contract with the Canadian company Ontario Inc, a subsidiary of Richmond Minerals Inc. According to the agreement, all rights to the three lithium exploration projects Bretstein-Lachtal (districts of Murtal and Murau), Klementkogel (district of Voitsberg and Wolfsberg) and Wildbachgraben (district of Deutschlandsberg) will be transferred to European Lithium.
The three projects, summarised under the name “Austrian Lithium Projects”, have a total area of 114.6 km2. The acquisition of the projects is associated with 245 exploration licences. From a geological point of view, the lithium deposits are comparable to the one near Wolfsberg. They show similar vein-like mineralisation and there, as there, spodumene is the primary lithium-bearing mineral.
The Bretstein-Lachtal project accounts for the largest part of the licences (191) and is clearly the largest with 89.2 km2. It will be the focus of further exploration by European Lithium and is also the most advanced of these three newly acquired exploration projects. According to geochemical analyses, the most recently collected rock chip samples have a lithium oxide content of up to 2.67 %.
In contrast, the Klementkogel (22 licences, 10.5 km2) and Wildbachgraben (32 licences, 14.9 km2) projects have only been explored to a limited extent so far.
“With the acquisition of the three projects, we are expanding our portfolio in Europe. We can do this very efficiently by building on the experience of the Wolfsberg project and benefiting from the geographical proximity. By exploring further deposits, we can position ourselves even more broadly and make a stronger commitment to building a European battery supply chain,” says Dietrich Wanke, CEO of European Lithium and ECM Lithium AT GmbH.
In March, European Lithium published the figures of the Definitive Feasibility Study for the Wolfsberg lithium project. According to the study, about 12.9 Mt of lithium-bearing ore have been proven as an initial raw material resource in the first of two possible mining zones on the Weinebene. From this, a total of 129,000 t of lithium hydroxide monohydrate in battery quality for the electric car industry are to be produced during a mining period of about 15 years. The study supports previous expectations that the project is very profitably feasible.
“We are very positive about the progress at Wolfsberg. The figures from the Final Feasibility Study support our high expectations for the project. The expected after-tax NPV has increased to 1.5 bn US$, almost double the value of the previously conducted pre-feasibility study. Against the background of increasing demand for lithium combined with a structural undersupply, we are therefore convinced that the project has a high return potential,” says Wanke.
Lithium mining in Wolfsberg can begin in 2025 at the earliest, and further processing into battery-grade lithium could start in 2026. A first purchase agreement with BMW has already been signed. Currently, European Lithium is preparing a transaction together with the US company Sizzle Acquisitions Corp. that is to result in the foundation of the new company Critical Metals Corp. The new company will be the sole owner of the Wolfsberg project and is expected to be listed on NASDAQ. European Lithium will be the largest shareholder in Critical Metals Corp.