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Pilgangoora Lithium-Tantalum Project opens

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Global Mining Review,

Pilbara Minerals’ Pilgangoora Lithium-Tantalum Project has been officially opened by Western Australia’s Minister for Mines and Petroleum, the Honourable Bill Johnston MLA.

The official opening ceremony was held on site at the Pilgangoora Project, located approximately 120 km 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 programme 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 2 million tpy mining and processing operation to deliver life-of-mine (LOM) production of 330 000 tpy of 6% spodumene concentrate (lithium) and 300 000 Ibs/y 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 5 million tpy, which will grow spodumene concentrate production to over 800 000 tpy.

100% 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: “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.”

“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.”

“Pilbara Minerals has now well and truly arrived as a new global lithium producer. We are all firmly of the view that our journey is only just beginning.”

Johnston said: “On behalf of the McGowan Government, I congratulate Pilbara Minerals, and its employees and contractors, on the opening of Pilgangoora – a world-class lithium project. It was only four years ago when Pilbara Minerals’ drilled its first hole and the project has quickly evolved, becoming one of Australia’s fastest lithium developments.”

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Australian mining news Lithium mining news