Liontown Resources has announced the commencement of underground mining at the Mt Mann pit in Kathleen Valley, with the firing of the first blast for the creation of underground portals. 

The pit will have six portals in total to support one-way truck movements and ventilation drives, which have been designed to future proof the operation and enhance the safety and productivity of underground mining activities.

Kathleen Valley has a Mineral Resource Estimate of 156Mt at 1.4 per cent lithium oxide (Li₂O) and 130ppm tantalum pentoxide (Ta₂O₅). Open pit mining at Mt Mann and Kathleen’s Corner pits commenced in January 2023, with ore being stockpiled for processing through the processing plant when it comes online mid-2024. 

Open pit mining at Mt Mann pit concluded in September 2023. Since then, preparations to commence underground development have been underway, establishing critical infrastructure, contractor mobilisations and site establishments, equipment commissioning and portal ground support.

The underground mining contract was awarded to Byrnecut in September and is the single largest contract for the Kathleen Valley Project, with a value of approximately $1 billion over four years. 

Liontown said that Byrnecut’s wealth of underground expertise, strong balance sheet and skilled workforce were critical to its selection. The Byrnecut team recently mobilised to site, bringing with them new state-of-the-art mining equipment.

Liontown has said that the on-schedule commencement of underground mining at Kathleen Valley is a testament to the dedication and high-quality planning work of its mining team, underground mining contractor Byrnecut, open pit mining contractor Iron Mine Contracting, and many others.

Production is expected to begin in mid-2024.

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