PERTH (miningweekly.com) – ASX-listed Pilbara Minerals has produced its first concentrates at the Pilgangoora lithium/tantalum project, in Western Australia.
MD Ken Brinsden said on Thursday that the production of initial fines concentrates was a significant and exciting milestone, coming just a week after the commissioning process started at the Pilgangoora concentrator.
The first fines concentrate was produced through the flotation circuit, with the coarse concentrate circuit continuing to be constructed, and to be brought on line in the coming weeks.
Brinsden said that the fines circuit was prioritised during the commissioning for the higher proportion of product that is yielded through this circuit at the start of production.
While the initial concentrate had not been tested for specifications or quality, early signs indicate that the process plant and equipment were performing as expected, he added.
Over the coming weeks all remaining construction activities will be completed with further commissioning and testing to be undertaken through the combined coarse and fines circuit.
Pilbara is targeting delivery of its first spodumene concentrate shipment in August this year, and is currently working through the logistics, shipment and payment details with its Stage 1 offtake partners.
Following the commissioning of the dense media separation circuits over the next week, the company will then focus on continuing to ramp up the plant’s overall production capacity, with lithium and tantalite recoveries expected to match the designed Stage 1 capacity.
Brinsden said that the process would take between six and nine months to complete, with production expected to incrementally increase during the ramp-up period.
The Stage 1 project at Pilgangoora will be a two-million-tonne-a-year operation, producing an average of 314 000 t/y of 6% spodumene concentrate and 321 000 lb/y of tantalite, over 36 years. The Stage 2 expansion will increase production to five-million tonnes a year.
In the meantime, direct shipping ore (DSO) production will continue, with Pilbara pointing out that DSO mining was currently well ahead of the shipment programme, with excellent reconciliation to the required shipment specifications being achieved during mining.