Plant upgrade improves Pilbara Minerals performance

Pilbara Minerals has improved the operational performance of the Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum project’s processing facilities following recent plant modifications.

The modified plant has delivered significant improvement in lithia recovery, up to 60 per cent recovery for the December quarter-to-date, in line with company expectations.

Recoveries have improved to 66–71 per cent this month, as better plant stability improved performance.

The upgrade to the processing plant included the introduction of additional plant controls for grant size optimisation, installation of additional low intensity magnetic separation (LIMS) drums, installation of controls for improved wet high intensity magnetic separation (WHIMS) operation, and the introduction of additional monitoring and control loops for increased stability.

The company anticipates with further plant optimisation and operating time, recoveries will continue to improve to the range of 72 to 78 per cent lithia by June 2020.

Pilbara Minerals managing director Ken Brinsden said ongoing plant improvement works had already made a strong contribution to improved recovery performance.

“With these recent plant modifications, we have taken a significant leap forward in terms of plant recovery rates, which of course is a key contributor to unit cost reduction,” Brinsden said.

“As a result, we are expecting a step-down in cash operating costs in the coming quarters.”

Brinsden said while the lithium market conditions remained difficult in the short-term, Pilbara Minerals was confident it would match demand.

“We are well placed to match production to customer demand and establish lower unit operating costs while the plant is producing,” he said.

Plant recovery is a key contributor to achieving unit operating cost reductions at Pilgangoora.

Pilbara Minerals believes its recent result and future results anticipated from further plant improvement should see cash operating costs normalise during the next two to three quarters.

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