KALGOORLIE (miningweekly.com) – The Pilgangoora lithium/tantalum project in Western Australia, could potentially rival the 1.34-million-tonne-a-year Greenbushes lithium mine in terms of production.
ASX-listed Pilbara Minerals MD and CEO Ken Brinsden said on the sidelines of the Diggers & Dealers conference, in Kalgoorlie, that once fully expanded, the Pilgangoora operation could support a 1.1-million-tonne-a-year spodumene concentrate production rate.
“That doesn’t mean that we are going to blindly go out and expand to that size. There is an important part to play in balancing the market, but the scale of Pilgangoora is huge and we are confident in the ability to grow the mine over time, as long as demand and the price conditions are a healthy match,” Brinsden said.
Pilbara in June approved the staged restart of of the Ngungaju plant, previously known as the Altura operations. Pilbara in January this year completed the $175-million acquisition, gaining ownership of Altura’s Pilgangoora lithium project, which was promptly renamed to Ngungaju.
Brinsden said that restart operations were on track for the December quarter, with annual production to be ramped up to approximately 180 000 t/y to 200 000 t/y by mid-2022. This will see the combined annual production capacity of the Pilgangoora project increase to 560 000 t/y to 580 000 t/y.
The restart of operations will cost some A$39-million, and Pilbara is likely to fund the restart from existing cash; however, the miner has previously said that it would give consideration to the potential restructure of its existing syndicated debt facility, provided favourable terms and conditions could be achieved.