AUSTRALIAN lithium developer Core Lithium has signed an operating agreement with the Port of Darwin to export lithium products and import mining and construction equipment.

In early 2017, Core signed a non-binding heads of agreement with the port. The new port operating agreement will allow Core access to a truck unloading and dump facility, the ship loader feed conveyor, and access to the ship loader with berths capable of accommodating panamax-size vessels.

The first exports of lithium are expected in 2022.

Under the agreement, Core will provide all labour to operate the DPO facilities when handling the product and will obtain routine regulatory approvals relating to the use of the DPO facilities.

The port operating agreement has a five-year term.

The ability to use the existing Port of Darwin facilities, combined with the short haulage distance on existing sealed roads suitable for trucking means Core has minimal capital costs and low operating costs for its logistics chain from mine to port.

Core Lithium managing director Stephen Biggins said: “Access to key infrastructure like Darwin Port and the capital city of Darwin in northern Australia enables Core to build one of the most capital efficient and cost competitive hard-rock lithium projects in the world.

“With a successful FID expected in coming months, Core is aiming to commence export of high-quality lithium concentrate from Darwin Port by the end of next year.”