Developers Celebrate Pilgangoora Achievements at Official Opening

Employees, members of the Njamal people, along with other dignitaties celebrate the official start of the Pilgangoora project (left). Minister for Mines and Petroleum the Hon. Bill Johnston helps
open the mine alongside Pilbara Minerals Chairman Tony Kiernan. (Photo: Pilbara Minerals)
Pilbara Minerals recently celebrated a major milestone with the official opening of the Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum project by Western Australia’s Minister for Mines and Petroleum, the Hon. Bill Johnston MLA. The opening ceremony, which was held on site approximately 120 kilometers (km) south of Port Hedland in Western Australia, was also attended by the federal minister for environment and member for Durack, the Hon. Melissa Price, member of parliament; Traditional Owners, the Njamal people; project and offtake partners; and employees.

The official opening comes a little more than four years to the day since Pilbara Minerals’ first drill hole, which was followed by an intense program of resource drilling, feasibility studies, approvals, financing and construction of the operation, with first shipment of product recently achieved in October.

Stage 1 of the Pilgangoora project comprises a 2-million-metric-ton-per-year (mt/y) mining and processing operation to deliver life-of-mine (LOM) production of 330,000 mt/y of 6% spodumene concentrate (lithium) and 300,000 Ib per year of tantalite concentrate (tantalum). During the construction phase, the Pilgangoora project’s workforce peaked at more than 800 people, with its current operational workforce now approximately 200 people.

With first concentrates produced from Stage 1 in June and the first product shipment leaving Port Hedland on October 2, a second shipment was expected to follow shortly thereafter. Both product shipments exceeded customer specification requirements, which was an outstanding result considering the commissioning and early ramp up phase of the plant, the company said.

Given the Pilgangoora Project’s scale, demonstrated product quality and expected low-cost of operations, the Pilbara Minerals’ Board recently resolved to progress the Stage 2 expansion to 5 million mt/y, which will grow spodumene concentrate production to more than 800,000 mt/y. Pilbara Minerals Managing Director and CEO Ken Brinsden, said the official opening provided an important opportunity to acknowledge the many people who had contributed to Pilbara Minerals’ success.

“This is a very proud day for Pilbara Minerals, and I would like to pay tribute to everyone who has helped us through our journey from explorer to producer,” he said. “Every milestone achieved from exploration through to production and first shipment since we completed our first drill hole back in November 2014 is a testament to our great people and project partners.”

All of the Pilgangoora Project’s production is underpinned by binding offtake agreements with General Lithium, Ganfeng Lithium, POSCO and Great Wall Motor Co.

As featured in Womp 2018 Vol 12 -