Pilbara Minerals has awarded the open pit mining contract for its Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum project in Western Australia to MACA.
The contract scope will see MACA provide drill and blast, and load and haul services at the operation, which is around 120km from Port Hedland.
It is based on a mining rate of around 8 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) for production of 2Mtpa to meet the ore feed requirements of stage one of Pilgangoora’s development.
MACA will mobilise to the site “shortly”, according to Pilbara Minerals, with pre-stripping of the main Pilgangoora deposit to be begin in November.
Mining activities will ramp up for the rest of the year and into next year to meet Pilbara Minerals’ timetable to launch shipments of spodumene concentrate to its Chinese customers in the second quarter of 2018.
Pilbara Minerals managing director Ken Brinsden said awarding the open pit mining contract was a key milestone for the project as site-based activities continued to ramp up.
“The site is already a hive of activity, and this will only continue toincrease in the coming weeks following the award of this pivotal contract as the MACA mining team begin to mobilise to site,” Brinsden said.
“This contract will employ around 70 personnel and will require the mobilisation of an extensive mining fleet comprising two hydraulic excavators, seven large capacity haulage trucks, drill rigs and numerous items of support equipment.”
The contract has been signed for two years, but also includes three one-year options for Pilbara Minerals to extend the agreement.
MACA director Geoff Baker said the company was excited to have the opportunity to participate in the project and continue its long-term mining presence in the Pilbara.
“We look forward to being part of the expanding lithium industry and assisting the team at Pilbara to deliver the Pilgangoora project,” Baker said.
The stage one open pit mining contract follows the award of other key contracts at Pilgangoora, including for bulk civil earthworks, camp expansion and camp services.
Pilbara Minerals expects to announce additional construction and infrastructure contracts in the coming weeks.