The Australian Government has awarded major project status (MPS) for advanced lithium developer Core Lithium’s Finniss Lithium Project located in the Northern Territory.

The Finniss lithium project involves the development of open pit spodumene lithium mine and a processing plant.

The MPS, which is valid for a three-year period, provides Core Lithium with extra support from the Major Projects Facilitation Agency, including a single-entry point for Australian Government approvals.

Core Lithium plans to release an updated definitive feasibility study (DFS) on the Finniss project in the first half of 2021.

Australian Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said that the MPS granting for the Finniss lithium project supports the Federal Government’s strategy of developing the critical minerals sector, as well as support economic development.

Pitt added: “This project will be able to supply markets in Asia and Europe with critical minerals, and will have the potential to increase downstream processing, increasing supply chain diversification.”

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Subject to a final investment decision, construction on the Finniss Lithium Project is planned to commence this year.

Core Lithium managing director Stephen Biggins said: “When in production, the Finniss Project will be the first Australian lithium-producing mine outside of Western Australia, with our proximity to Darwin Port – the country’s nearest port to Asia – serving as a direct route for our lithium to be processed and delivered to end users worldwide.

“This opens up a pathway for a critical minerals hub to be established in Northern Australia, along with the potential for significant associated local manufacturing opportunities.”

The Finniss lithium project area includes five deposits: Grants, BP33, Sandras, Carlton, and Hang Gong SW.