PERTH (miningweekly.com) – ASX-listed Mineral Resources (MinRes) has marked first new spodumene concentrate production at its Wodgina lithium project, in the Pilbara.
Wodgina is one of the world’s largest known hard rock lithium deposits and operates under the MARBL joint venture (JV), which is an unincorporated JV between MinRes and US major Albemarle Corporation, with a current processing capacity of 750 000 t/y of 6% spodumene concentrate.
In late 2021, following two years in care and maintenance, the MARBL JV agreed to resume production at Wodgina in response to soaring global demand for lithium products.
Production at the first of Wodgina’s three 250 000 t/y trains has now started, and work is also underway to prepare Wodgina’s second train for production in July 2022.
MinRes’ CEO for lithium, Paul Brown, said the fast start-up was a credit to the company’s strategy to build and invest in a portfolio of long-life, high-quality assets.
“Achieving first spodumene concentrate production at Wodgina is a great milestone as we look to safely and efficiently build production momentum to meet significant global demand for lithium products,” Brown said.
“Work is also advanced on starting Train 2, which demonstrates the foresight and optionality MinRes invested in Wodgina when we first developed this world-class asset.”
In addition to Wodgina, the MARBL JV includes the 50 000 t/y Kemerton lithium hydroxide plant near Bunbury in Western Australia’s South West. Commissioning of the first of two 25 000 t/y processing lines is almost complete and maiden hydroxide production is expected shortly.
MinRes also operates the Mt Marion lithium mine in Western Australia’s Goldfields region in a 50-50 JV with lithium producers Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium.
In April this year, MinRes and Ganfeng announced decision to increase spodumene production at Mt Marion from 450 000 t/y to 600 000 t/y of mixed-grade concentrate and target an annual plant capacity of 900 000 t/y by the end of 2022. MinRes has also begun processing its share of Mt Marion spodumene concentrate into lithium hydroxide as part of the Ganfeng partnership.
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