Pilbara Minerals has lowered its production targets at the Pilgangoora lithium operation in Western Australia, as labour shortages slow the use of its newly commissioned Ngungaju plant.
The Ngungaju plant was successfully commissioned in October, as Pilbara Minerals targets one million tonnes per annum once both the Ngungaju and Pilgan plants are upgraded.
These lofty targets slipped further away than expected, however, as the company cited widespread labour shortages as the reason for downgraded production guidance.
The company now expects to produce approximately 84,000 – 95,000 tonnes of spodumene concentrate during the December quarter of 2021, down from 90,000 – 115,000 tonnes.
This will create a domino effect on the company’s shipping targets, which have been revised to 400,000 – 450,000 tonnes for the 2022 financial year, down from 460,000 – 510,000 tonnes.
Pilbara Minerals managing director Ken Brinsden said he remained optimistic for the future of the operation.
“We have made excellent progress in the construction and initial commissioning of the expanded facilities at Pilgangoora, with construction of the Pilgan improvements project being delivered on time and on budget,” Brinsden said.
“That said, as we have started ramping up capacity across the entire Pilgangoora site, Pilbara Minerals has not been immune to the skilled labour shortages currently impacting the WA resources sector.
“Notwithstanding this, Pilbara Minerals remains incredibly well-placed to make a significant contribution towards satisfying the world’s burgeoning appetite for lithium raw materials.”
The company also announced the near-completion of a scoping study with Calix for a mid-stream product demonstration plant.
The companies signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in May 2021 and are now aiming to produce lithium sales from fines-flotation spodumene concentrate.
Technical work on the scoping study is now complete and the commercial and economic evaluation is expected to be delivered in early 2022.