Pilbara Minerals has achieved first coarse spodumene production from its Ngungaju plant at the Pilgangoora lithium operation in Western Australia, as the plant undergoes commissioning.
The milestone came one week after the company announced it had begun commissioning the restart of the operation’s second plant.
The ore used to restart the plant had few other uses and was seen by Pilbara Minerals as ideal for this purpose.
“The re-commencement of the coarse circuit will initially utilise existing weathered ore already stockpiled at Pilgangoora that was not amenable to flotation, but which now provides an opportunity for low-cost ore to be fed into the Ngungaju plant during the initial ramp-up period when concentrate is sourced solely from the coarse circuit,” Pilbara Minerals stated.
While production from the plant’s coarse circuit will now ramp-up, production from the fines concentrate circuit will commence during the March quarter of 2022.
Once both circuits are ramped up, the plant will produce 180,000 to 200,000 dry metric tonnes by mid-2022, complementing the Pilgan plant’s – Pilgangoora’s first plant – planned 360,000 to 380,000 tonne per annum next year.
Earlier in October, Pilbara Minerals managing director and chief executive officer Ken Brinsden said these milestones were flowing thick and fast.
“The first step of the Ngungaju restart has been delivered in less than four months since the board approved a staged restart of Ngungaju, ahead of the guidance we gave to the market,” Brinsden said.
“This is a tremendous result, particularly considering the challenging environment in the WA resources sector for people, equipment and services.”
The staged restart of Ngungaju will turn Pilbara Minerals into a producer of 580,000 dry metric tonne per annum operation when at full capacity.
Planned upgrades to the Pilgan plant will then target one million tonnes per annum.