Tag Archives: Pilbara Minerals

New Ishigaki filter press starts up at Pilbara Minerals’ Pilgangoora operation

Pilbara Minerals Ltd says it has commenced concentrate production from its newly installed filter press at the Pilgan Plant. The development is part of the Plant Improvements Project being undertaken at its 100%-owned Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum operation in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

The filter press in question is provided by Ishigaki and will handle approximately 1,500 t/d of concentrate, Pilbara Minerals’ Managing Director and CEO, Ken Brinsden, confirmed.

The Pilgan Plant Improvements Project is expected to de-bottleneck the facility to increase plant operating time and throughput, reduce final product moisture (minimising solar drying) and further manage product recovery performance. These improvements are ultimately expected to realise additional production capacity from the facility, and particularly from the fines flotation circuit.

A total of approximately A$22 million ($16 million) of capital will be invested, with the project expected to be fully ramped-up during the December quarter 2021 to 360,000-380,000 t (dry) of spodumene concentrate. When combined with Ngungaju Plant’s ramped-up capacity of 180,000-200,000 t (dry), which is expected from mid-2022, the total annual production capacity across the entire Pilgangoora operation is expected to increase to circa-560,000-580,000 t/y.

Brinsden said the commencement of production from the Pilgan Plant Improvements Project marked another significant and exciting milestone in the rapid growth of the Pilgangoora project.

“The team has done another amazing job in delivering this project on time and in line with budget,” he said. “Keeping it on track, in combination with the restart of the Ngungaju Plant, is testament to the delivery capability of our team – particularly considering that these works were achieved during a period when the resources industry is under considerable pressure in terms of securing people, resources and equipment.”

Pilbara Minerals enlists Contract Power Australia for Pilgangoora solar power plans

Pilbara Minerals Limited has announced a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between its wholly owned subsidiary, Pilgangoora Operations Pty Ltd, and Contract Power Australia that could see a 6 MW solar array built at the Pilgangoora lithium project in Western Australia.

The solar array is, the company says, an important demonstration of its commitment to implementing environmentally friendly power solutions, as a part of its pledge to transition to net-zero emissions (scope 1 and 2) in the decade commencing 2040.

Pilbara Minerals said it looks forward to continuing its working relationship with Contract Power and the broader Pacific Energy Group, which began in 2018 when the first baseload power station was installed at Pilgangoora. The PPA involves a 15-year contract to construct, operate and maintain a 6 MW solar array, which is estimated to displace 3.8 million litres/y of diesel fuel, saving an estimated 9,900 t of CO2/y over the contract period.

“A key factor in awarding this exciting new renewable energy project to Contract Power was their established track record and ability to design and safely deliver turnkey energy projects,” the company added.

It is anticipated that procurement for the project will commence imminently with commissioning expected in late July 2022, and commercial operation from the end of August 2022. The design facilitates the future expansion of solar capacity and potential inclusion of battery storage at Pilgangoora, as Pilbara Minerals creates further efficiencies around its power supply and storage solutions at Pilgangoora, it said.

The installation of the first phase of the solar farm is just one part of the initial rationalisation of power assets at Pilgangoora, as the company further integrates the Ngungaju Operation. A local power network will be created to join the Ngungaju and Pilgan Plants, and the Carlindi camp facilities thereby creating further efficiencies, Pilbara Minerals explained.

Pilbara Minerals’ longer-term objectives include integration with other northern Pilbara power and/or gas and renewables sources with a view to creating further efficiency gains on the path to net-zero carbon.

IronMerge SIMPEC joint venture to work on Pilgangoora lithium operation

SIMPEC and IronMerge have secured their first contract under a newly incorporated joint venture, with the IronMerge SIMPEC JV to work on Pilbara Minerals’ Pilgangoora lithium operation in Western Australia.

WestStar Industrial Ltd’s SIMPEC formed its first Aboriginal Business joint venture, IronMerge SIMPEC JV, with IronMerge Pty Ltd just last month.

The Stage 1 A$15 million ($11.7 million) improvement works contract at Pilgangoora involves a series of works to improve operating time and throughput as part of continuous improvement to operational performance of Pilgangoora’s Stage 1, 2 Mt/y processing facility.

SIMPEC has been contracted to perform all vertical installation works including earth works, civils, fabrication, structural, mechanical, piping, tanks, electrical and instrumentation works for the project. All works will be conducted with joint venture partner IronMerge.

The Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum project has a current resource of 222.5 Mt and existing JORC compliant reserves of 104.6 Mt.

SIMPEC Managing Director, Mark Dimasi (pictured on the right), said: “This newly awarded contract is a tribute to not only our SIMPEC delivery team but also Ian Taylor (Chairman of IronMerge, pictured in the middle next to Ken Brinsden, MD and CEO of Pilbara Minerals, on the left) and his IronMerge team. This is a very proud moment for all of us and I sincerely look forward to seeing this JV relationship growing and developing in the construction and mining sector. A big thank you to the Pilbara Minerals team for backing us throughout this tender phase.”

Pilbara Minerals and POSCO move a step closer to lithium chemical production JV

The Pilbara Minerals Board has conditionally exercised its option to enter into an incorporated joint venture with POSCO (for up to 30% participation) for the development of a downstream lithium chemical conversion facility in South Korea.

Pilbara Minerals’ Managing Director and CEO, Ken Brinsden, said the company’s relationship with POSCO had developed over the last year as it has continued to work through the Pilgangoora lithium project joint venture.

“It has been really pleasing to see the positive results generated by the due diligence work to date. The significant investment by POSCO into their PosLX technology has paid off and they have proven their ability to produce an industry leading, battery-ready lithium product through their innovative lithium purification process,” he said.

On October 2, 2018, Pilbara Minerals produced its first spodumene concentrate shipment from Pilgangoora. A total of 8,800 t (wet) of spodumene concentrate grading approximately 6.1% lithia and 1.2% Fe2O3 set sail from Port Hedland bound for the company’s offtake partners in north Asia.

The company’s agreement with POSCO encompasses long-term offtake, funding and the downstream conversion plant joint venture opportunity.

Brinsden said the rapid growth in lithium chemicals consumption in South Korea could see the country’s battery manufacturing sector supply around 25% of worldwide capacity by 2028, according to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.

The downstream lithium facility, to be located in the Gwangyang Free Economic Zone in South Korea, would have up to 40,000 t/y of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) capacity and process spodumene from Pilgangoora using POSCO’s patented PosLX purification process.

Since the December quarter, Pilbara Minerals has been undertaking technical due diligence to assess the proposed chemical plant development and work to date has delivered promising results, it said.

“Due diligence has included a visit of technical staff and assessment of POSCO’s existing commercial operations plant using their PosLX technology, based on Pilbara Minerals’ spodumene delivered from the Pilgangoora project,” Pilbara Minerals said.

POSCO has developed its first commercial-scale operation (after the initial development of a pilot scale plant) that produces up to 2,500 t/y of lithium chemicals on an LCE basis, according to Pilbara Minerals. Based on spodumene chemical conversion, the plant has the capacity and flexibility to produce both high grade lithium hydroxide, or, alternately, lithium carbonate products with low impurities in the final products produced.

Pilbara Minerals said: “The battery grade lithium hydroxide produced has to date been tested by major South Korean cathode makers and has passed their qualification process.”

Once a number of conditions surrounding the deal are complete, they will be put to the Board of Pilbara Minerals for a final decision and commitment to the joint development in mid- to late-May 2019. The parties would then aim to complete construction of the chemical conversion plant in late 2020 with commencement of ramp-up and production from early 2021.

Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund boosting mine development

A new investment mandate for the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund (NAIF) is helping more projects get off the ground sooner, NAIF Executive Director Peter Ross told delegates at the International Mining and Resources Conference 2018 (IMARC) in Melbourne.

Ross said the fund’s investment mandate, introduced in April, was proving significantly more flexible.

“We are now able to provide up to 100% of the debt finance for a project – up from 50% previously, and we can now also consider smaller projects below A$50 million ($35 million) in value, where they meet other criteria,” Ross said.

Since its establishment in 2016, the NAIF has grown its portfolio. It has moved from having five projects in due diligence in 2017 to making investment decisions on six projects in the last financial year.

“Our loan portfolio now stands at A$264 million, on Northern Australian projects valued at A$969 million,” Ross said.

“In addition, we have another A$750 million of loans that are conditionally approved. In total, the NAIF expects to soon be supporting projects valued at A$2.3 billion, which will provide thousands of jobs in Northern Australia and deliver long-term benefits for the region.”

As might be expected in Northern Australia, resource projects feature prominently in the NAIF portfolio. Since June 2017 a third of the projects considered for due diligence by the fund have been resources-related.

Of the six projects sanctioned, three are resource related.

Sheffield Resources’ Thunderbird mineral sands project (pictured) secured A$95 million in finance to develop its LNG power station and reticulation, and upgrade road and port infrastructure to support the project in WA’s West Kimberley Region.

The NAIF has also signed off on a A$95 million facility for the Onslow Marine Supply Base, and A$15 million for the upgrade of the Pippingarra Road, a 70 km public road to access the Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum mine being developed by Pilbara Minerals, near Port Hedland.

Ross said as word spread of the NAIF’s capacity, project enquiries were increasing. The NAIF has experienced a 320% increase in projects undergoing due diligence since September 2017.

Apart from being an infrastructure project in Australia’s north, to secure NAIF support a project must also have the capacity to repay or re-finance on commercial terms, be of public benefit, and demonstrate it has an effective indigenous engagement strategy.