Pilbara Minerals has produced first concentrate at the Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum project in Western Australia.
The production of spodumene and tantalum concentrates marks another key step towards full production at Pilgangoora.
Pilbara Minerals has not tested the initial concentrates for specifications or quality, but reported that the early signs indicated the process plant was performing as expected.
The company produced the first concentrate through the flotation circuit, with construction of the coarse concentrate circuit continuing.
Pilbara Minerals prioritised commissioning of the fines circuit for the higher proportion of product that is yielded through this circuit at the start of production.
Ken Brinsden, Pilbara Minerals managing director and chief executive, said production of initial fines concentrates was a significant and exciting milestone, coming just a week after the commissioning process commenced at the Pilgangoora concentrator.
“This is a great result, which marks the culmination of the incredible hard work our entire team has put in to transform the amazing resource at Pilgangoora into a globally significant lithium raw materials production base – with stage one of the project having been delivered in less than four years since the first drill hole,” Brinsden said.
Pilbara Minerals is targeting delivery of the first shipment of spodumene concentrate in August.
Meanwhile, the first shipment of direct shipping ore (DSO) from the Pilgangoora operation left Port Hedland bound for China last Saturday.
Atlas Iron, under a mine gate sale agreement with Pilbara Minerals, shipped the 85,000t of DSO from Utah Point.