The Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum project was officially opened this week by the Western Australia’s Minister for Mines and Petroleum, the Honourable Bill Johnston MLA, marking another key step in the lithium and tantalum raw materials supplier’ journey.
|Official opening of Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum project. Image source ©Pilbara Minerals|
The official opening ceremony was held on site at the Pilgangoora Project, located approximately 120 kilometres south of Port Hedland in Western Australia. The opening was also attended by the Federal Minister for Environment and Member for Durack, the Honourable Melissa Price MP; Traditional Owners, the Njamal People; project and offtake partners; and employees.
The official opening comes just over four years to the day since Pilbara Minerals’ first drill hole which was followed by an intense program of resource drilling, feasibility studies, approvals, financing and construction of the operation, with first shipment of product recently achieved in October 2018.
Stage 1 of the Pilgangoora Project comprises a 2Mtpa mining and processing operation to deliver life-of-mine (LOM) production of 330,000tpa of 6 per cent spodumene concentrate (lithium) and 300,000Ibspa (pounds per annum) of tantalite concentrate (tantalum).
During the construction phase, the Pilgangoora Project’s workforce peaked at over 800 people, with its current operational workforce now approximately 200 people.
The Stage 1 operation continues to go from strength to strength, with first concentrates produced in June 2018 and the first product shipment leaving Port Hedland on 2 October 2018, and with the second shipment following shortly thereafter. Both product shipments exceeded customer specification requirements which was an outstanding result considering the commissioning and early ramp up phase of the plant.
Given the Pilgangoora Project’s scale, demonstrated product quality and expected low-cost of operations, the Pilbara Minerals’ Board recently resolved to progress the Stage 2 expansion to 5Mtpa, which will grow spodumene concentrate production to over 800,000tpa.
One hundred per cent of the Pilgangoora Project’s production under both the Stage 1 operation and recently approved Stage 2 expansion is underpinned by binding offtake agreements with leading, experienced global offtake partners General Lithium, Ganfeng Lithium, POSCO and Great Wall Motor Company.
Pilbara Minerals’ Managing Director and CEO, Ken Brinsden, said the official opening provided an important opportunity to acknowledge the many people who had contributed to Pilbara Minerals’ success.
“This is a very proud day for Pilbara Minerals, and I would like to pay tribute to everyone who has helped us through our journey from explorer to producer,” he said.
“Every milestone achieved from exploration through to production and first shipment since we completed our first drill hole back in November 2014 is a testament to our great people and project partners.”
“The significant upfront investment we made in building the resource base and in designing and engineering all aspects of the Pilgangoora Project to the highest possible standards has allowed us to complete the construction phase and move seamlessly into commissioning and ramp-up with remarkably few delays or hiccups for a project of this scale and complexity.”
Mr Brinsden acknowledged the Traditional Owners, the Njamal People, pointing out that their support has been invaluable in moving the Pilgangoora Project through development and into production.