Pilbara Minerals begins work on Pilgangoora expansion

Pilgangoora Process Plant Site. Image Pilbara Minerals

Pilbara Minerals has begun initial work at its 5 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) expansion at the Pilgangoora lithium project in Western Australia.

Metallurgical testwork and engineering are now underway at the Stage 2 expansion project.

The company is planning to commence shipments of spodumene concentrates in the second quarter of 2018 as its Stage 1, 2Mtpa project advances towards first production.

Pilbara Minerals has also awarded Contract Power Group the build, own, operate (BOO) contract for the site’s power station and ongoing operations at the site. The contract provides flexibility to use dual fuel (gas or diesel) within the first two years of the contract and for future solar-hybrid applications.

Mining executive Dale Henderson has been appointed as project director for the Stage 1 construction while Jason Cross will take over responsibility of the Stage 2 expansion.

Site works at Pilgangoora are now well underway, with the first 60 rooms at the camp commissioned and an additional 240 rooms expected to be completed by early to mid-October.

Contractor NRW has also advanced the site bulk civil earthworks package, with all of the plant pads (with the exception of the crusher pad) ready for handover to RCR Tomlinson. RCR secured a contract to construct a 2Mtpa processing plant at the project in July this year.

MACA was recently awarded a contract to provide drill, blast and load and haul services at the operation, based on a mining rate of around f around 8 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) for production of 2Mtpa.

Pilbara Minerals’ managing director Ken Brinsden said the company was working hard to ensure it remains on track to become a key lithium producer by early next year.

“Our entire team is focused on ensuring delivery of the Stage 1 Pilgangoora Project, with site works now well advanced. As activities ramp-up, we are delighted to have secured an executive of Dale Henderson’s calibre and project development and operations experience, which will be invaluable in the delivery and operations at Pilgangoora,” he said.

“Importantly, his commencement also allows us to allocate additional resources to the 5Mtpa expansion program, which would see mine production capacity grow to approximately 100,000tpa of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE).”

The 5Mtpa processing capacity at Pilgangoora would increase spodumene concentrate production to over 800,000 tonnes per annum, or approximately 100,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) capacity.

With the bulk of goods and services for the Stage 1 development already obtained, Pilbara looks to secure its final major works packages including the borefield network, Great Northern Highway intersection upgrade works, and mining operations centre buildings and infrastructure.

Pilbara Minerals aims to complete a definitive feasibility study on the expansion project by mid-2018.