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Pilbara Minerals’ board approves staged restart at Ngungaju Plant

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Global Mining Review,

Pilbara Minerals Ltd has reported that it has taken further significant steps towards growing spodumene concentrate production at its 100%-owned Pilgangoora Project located in Western Australia.

Following its Board’s approval of the staged restart of the Ngungaju Plant, the company is expecting these operations will recommence during the December quarter 2021, with annual production to be ramped up to approximately 180 000 to 200 000 dry metric tonnes (dmt) by mid-2022. This will see the combined annual production capacity of the Pilgangoora Project increase to 560 000 to 580 000 dmt.

This represents a key milestone for Pilbara Minerals as it works towards maximising the value of its strategic and well-timed acquisition of the former Altura Lithium Operations. The restart will expand production capacity, increase the scale of operations and provide production flexibility as the company looks to satisfy rapidly growing market demand. The integration of the two processing facilities (Pilgan and Ngungaju) and enlarged resource and pit inventories should provide significant operational synergies, enabling the company to realise cost efficiencies across the operation over time.

The estimated restart cost of AUS$39 million (inclusive of plant modifications and operational readiness activities) is consistent with the company’s original valuation at the time of acquisition and are proposed to be incurred over approximately the next 12 months. The company is likely to fund the cost of the re-start from existing cash, although consideration will be given to funding support via the potential restructure of the existing syndicated debt facility, provided favourable terms and conditions can be achieved.

Capital development expenditure is largely focussed on Ngungaju plant modifications that support the adoption of Pilbara Minerals’ Pilgan Plant flotation regime. Pilgan Plant now has a well-established track record of recovery performance through the combination of grind optimisation, process controls, free-iron removal, high intensity conditioning pre-flotation, and optimised flotation reagent adoption. The majority of these optimisations and process learnings will now be deployed on the Ngungaju facility to materially rerate its overall lithia recovery performance as compared to its prior operation.

Elsewhere, further investment will be applied to improve the crushing and materials handling aspects of the operation.

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Australian mining news Lithium mining news