Tag Archives: spodumene

Liontown awards Kathleen Valley wet plant lithium contract to Monadelphous

Liontown Resources says Monadelphous has been awarded the wet plant structural, mechanical, piping and electrical & instrumentation contract for the Kathleen Valley lithium project in Western Australia.

This appointment, valued at approximately A$100 million ($64 million), enables a vertically integrated approach to construction of the critical path wet plant, according to Liontown, providing efficiencies and underpinning confidence in the schedule to first production in mid-2024. It also signifies the final major construction contract award for Kathleen Valley.

The contract scope includes installation of 1,200 t of structural steel, 20,000 m of piping, 600 mechanical equipment items, 200 platework items, the SAG mill, magnetics circuit, flotation circuit, tantalum recovery circuit, concentrate dewatering and tails treatment.

Monadelphous commenced work under a Letter of Intent and began mobilising to site in August under a staged contractual award approach.

By deploying lessons learned from industry peers, the wet plant has been designed to a high specification with quality and hard-wearing materials, including polyurethane-lined steel piping and ceramic lined high-wear areas, designed to reduce future maintenance requirements, Liontown said. In addition, the adoption of the lessons learned will be applied during the commissioning and ramp up of the plant.

Liontown’s Managing Director and CEO, Tony Ottaviano, said: “The vertically integrated approach of combining the SMP and E&I packages enables Monadelphous to efficiently deliver both programs of work to a very high standard and played a large part in its successful tender.

“Monadelphous has a large resources pool, experience in the hard-rock lithium sector, and a proven track record of delivering large-scale multi-disciplinary projects in Western Australia, which came through strongly throughout the evaluation process. Their demonstrated skills, capability and professionalism reflects Liontown’s expectations of a partnership. There is a clear line of sight to first spodumene production mid-next year.”

The Kathleen Valley operations have been optimised for an initial 3 Mt/y, producing approximately 500,000 t/y of spodumene concentrate with a 4 Mt/y expansion planned in Year 6, to deliver approximately 700,000 t/y of spodumene concentrate. Mining will predominately be underground, allowing direct access to higher grade mineralisation while minimising waste and the environmental footprint of the project. Mined ore will be processed through a whole-of-ore flotation circuit which will provide an estimated recovery rate of 78% across the mine life and an estimated site recovery for tantalum concentrate of 42%.

Liontown awards A$175 million Kathleen Valley lithium haulage contract to Qube

Liontown Resources has awarded the spodumene and direct shipping ore (DSO) haulage services contract for its Kathleen Valley lithium project in Western Australia to integrated logistics solutions provider, Qube Holdings Limited.

Following what Liontown referred to as an extensive tender process, Qube has secured the five-year contract, which involves loading spodumene concentrate at Kathleen Valley; haulage of the concentrate to the Port of Geraldton; storage and stockpile management at the port and the outload to port infrastructure for shipment to Liontown customers. Storage will be in a dedicated facility within the Port of Geraldton.

Qube will use ultra-Quad road-trains to truck all concentrate from Kathleen Valley to the dedicated storage facility at the Port of Geraldton for the duration of the contract. Qube will use its 24/7 fleet monitoring centre in Perth to manage safety and environmental outcomes.

The contract is due to commence in mid-2024 in line with process plant ramp-up. Provision has been made for the services to be provided earlier for DSO as Liontown nears completion of offtake and processing options. As well as generating early revenue for Liontown, selling and shipping DSO will allow the company to trial the haulage logistics chain with lower grade material before first production is achieved from Kathleen Valley in mid-2024.

The concentrate haulage services contract, which is conditional upon Qube finalising arrangements to secure the storage facility at the Port of Geraldton, is valued at approximately A$175 million ($119 million) over the five-year contract term.

Qube has committed to the latest technology in driver and trucking safety as well as pursuing measurable carbon reduction initiatives as part of Liontown’s broader ESG commitments, working with the Kathleen Valley Tjiwarl Traditional Owners and exploring numerous revenue-generating opportunities with Tjiwarl businesses in the coming months, Liontown says. The contract will generate around 45 new positions and the Quad-trailers will be sourced in Western Australia.

Liontown’s Managing Director and CEO, Tony Ottaviano, said: “We look forward to working with Qube on the haulage and storage of our spodumene concentrate and DSO material from Kathleen Valley as well as benefiting from their expertise in the industry, especially with their extensive experience managing spodumene for others.

“This contract coupled with the Underground Mining Services (due this quarter) represents one of the last few outstanding contracts to be awarded as we progress Kathleen Valley towards first production mid-2024.”

Kathleen Valley is one of the world’s largest and highest-grade hard-rock lithium deposits and, with an initial 2.5 Mt/y production capacity, is expected to supply circa-500,000 t/y of 6% lithium oxide concentrate, according to the company.

Leo Lithium awards Corica Mali Goulamina open-pit mining contract

Corica Mali, a subsidiary of Corica Mining Services, has been awarded the open-pit mining services contract at Leo Lithium’s Goulamina project in Mali, a contract valued at approximately $348 million.

The contract, awarded following the completion of a competitive tender process and extensive due diligence, encompasses six months of pre-production activities at Goulamina followed by a fixed five-year term.

The scope of the contract comprises grade control, drill and blast, load and haul, and plant ore feed services. The planned material movement target is 18-20 Mt/y over the term. Corica has already mobilised to site under an early works contract and is currently undertaking the pre-strip and direct shipped ore (DSO) mining and crushing services.

Corica has a successful track record operating in the West African region for over 20 years, and has over 2,000 employees, according to Leo Lithium. It is currently providing large-scale mining services to a number of leading ASX and TSX listed mining companies across seven mining operations in Mali and neighbouring countries of Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso. This includes the Syama open-pit operation (operated by Resolute Mining), the Waghnion mine (majority owned by Endeavour Mining) and the Tongon mine (majority owned by Barrick Gold).

Goulamina is a spodumene project with development underway, located 50 km west of Bougouni in Mali with all approvals and key permits received to bring the project into production. An updated definitive feasibility study was completed in December 2021, which outlined conventional open-pit mining methods involving drilling, blasting, loading and hauling. High-quality concentrate has been validated by test work, including production of concentrate grade of 6% Li2O and low mica. Leo Lithium and Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium Co. Ltd own the project through a 50:50 joint venture, with the Government of Mali having the option to take up a 10% free carried interest in the project.

Leo Lithium Managing Director, Simon Hay, said: “We are delighted to appoint Corica as our mining services contractor following an intensive tender process. Corica has a long history and strong presence in Mali and will bring substantial local employment and supplier opportunities to the region.

“With the mining contractor now in place, Leo Lithium has taken another major step towards realising its target of first spodumene concentrate production in the first half of 2024. We look forward to working with Corica over the long term, commencing with DSO activities this quarter.”

Avalon Advanced Materials and Metso sign MoU on lithium hydroxide production plan

Avalon Advanced Materials Inc has signed a memorandum of understanding to create a strategic partnership with Metso aimed at establishing terms to develop a lithium hydroxide production facility to process lithium mineral concentrates that are essential for the North American electric vehicle (EV) battery value chain.

Avalon intends to deploy Metso’s technology to construct and operationalise a full-service lithium processing facility at the company’s recently acquired Thunder Bay, Ontario industrial site.

Upon completion of the project, Avalon says it will be the first vertically integrated lithium producer in Ontario, while ensuring Canada’s EV battery manufacturing base has a stable, proximate and long-term supply of this resource.

“Metso’s platform and technological solutions perfectly complement Avalon’s vision to complete an integrated lithium value chain in Ontario, predicated on innovative process solutions,” Zeeshan Syed, President of Avalon, said. “We view Metso as an integral part of this rapidly growing sector, and a foundational partner in developing internationally best-in-class processing capabilities that are environmentally sustainable, allowing Avalon to meet the soaring demand for battery-grade lithium.”

The non-binding MoU stipulates:
• The pursuit of a definitive agreement to establish a lithium hydroxide processing facility in Thunder Bay;
• Avalon to license Metso technology and solutions to produce lithium hydroxide cathode materials to serve the EV market;
• Allow Metso to conduct testing and engineering work across Avalon’s portfolio of critical-mineral projects, including the company’s flagship deposit at Separation Rapids near Kenora, Ontario; and
• The parties anticipate reaching a definitive agreement on or before September 1, 2023.

Metso’s sustainable next-generation production and processing technologies are being deployed internationally by governments and clean-energy producers in order to address and deliver the necessary supply required by the emerging EV battery industry, Avalon says.

Avalon’s strategic partnership with Metso is a first in Canada, and is a significant step towards helping the company execute on its vertically-integrated business strategy – and, in turn, entrench Ontario’s position as an advanced manufacturing hub serving not only North America, but the world.

Mikko Rantaharju, Head of Hydrometallurgy at Metso, said: “Metso is looking forward to partnering with Avalon and be part of its long-term vision to be a mid-stream supplier in the lithium hydroxide space. We are aligned with Avalon’s vision of the future and proud to play a key role in technology supply and advancement into clean energy solutions.

”We are also extremely excited to be partnering with the first Ontario conversion facility with Metso’s technology. The innovation advantages of the alkaline process allow for elimination of the use of potentially harmful chemicals such as sulfuric acid and comparatively reduces overall solid waste and emissions, making it environmentally friendlier and overall, safer for workers and local surrounding communities.”

Avalon is a Canadian mineral development company focused on vertically integrating the Ontario lithium value chain. The company is currently developing its Separation Rapids lithium deposit near Kenora, while continuing to advance other projects in its portfolio, including its 100%-owned Lilypad spodumene-cesium-tantalum project near Fort Hope, Ontario.

In additional to extraction activities, Avalon is executing on its key strategic objective of developing Ontario’s first midstream lithium hydroxide processing facility, a vital link bridging the gap between upstream lithium production and downstream EV battery manufacturing.

For battery minerals, Metso provides sustainable technology and equipment for the entire production chain, from the mine to battery materials and black mass recycling with project scopes ranging from equipment packages to plant deliveries.

Decmil receives logistics link upgrade LNoA from Covalent for Mount Holland lithium project

Decmil Group says it has received a Limited Notice of Award (LNoA) for a contract at Covalent Lithium’s Mount Holland lithium project in Western Australia.

Formal award of the contract remains subject to finalisation of terms and conditions, but, under the currently envisaged scope of the LNoA, Decmil is authorised to perform early works, commence procurement of materials and draft management plans.

If Decmil is awarded the contract, it will upgrade the logistics link between Great Eastern Highway and Covalent’s Mount Holland site. This encompasses 113 km of road upgrades with mobilisation scheduled to commence in August 2023 and completion anticipated by December 2024.

Covalent will develop and operate the Mount Holland project, which will be a unique, fully integrated producer of battery-quality lithium hydroxide in Western Australia. The company says it is targeting 75% recovery of spodumene in its concentrator and expects to produce more than 380,000 t/y of spodumene concentrate.

This LNoA further strengthens the relationship between Covalent and Decmil, with Decmil currently completing the design and construction of non-process infrastructure buildings at Covalent’s Kwinana site (pictured).

Decmil CEO, Rod Heale, said: “We are delivering on our shift towards larger-sized contracts with more equitable risk allocations that fit within our core geographic and operational expertise. This LNoA perfectly illustrates Decmil’s evolution towards this highly selective tendering strategy to underpin increasingly profitable revenue growth.

“The LNoA is also a testament to the successful delivery of our current package of works with Covalent, as we continue to positively progress our operational turnaround.

“Additionally, continued exposure to the Mount Holland project will further enhance the company’s position in the burgeoning lithium sector.”

NRW Holdings wins contract mining gig at Allkem’s Mt Cattlin open-pit lithium mine

NRW Holdings Limited says it has been issued with a Letter of Intent from Allkem Limited in respect to the contract for mining services works at the Mt Cattlin open-pit lithium mine in Western Australia.

Formal award of the contract is subject to finalising outstanding terms, but the anticipated value of the contract is circa-A$332 million ($220 million) over a 36-month duration and the project will be supported by a workforce of approximately 140 people, mostly sourced from the surrounding area.

The works to be performed under the contract include load & haul, drill & blast and material rehandling. NRW will use an existing fleet comprising 200-250-t-class excavators and 150-t-class trucks together with ancillary plant. Mobilisation is currently underway preparing for commencement on site in August.

The Mt Cattlin operation produced circa-194,000 t/y of spodumene concentrate grading up to 6% Li20 in the 2022 financial year to June 30, 2022, according to Allkem.

NRW Chief Executive Officer, Jules Pemberton, said: “I am delighted to announce that NRW has been selected by Allkem as its preferred contractor for the mining services contract. NRW is a world leading provider of services across all aspects of the Lithium sector and we look forward to a long and successful partnership with Allkem.”

TOMRA Mining tech to be used for the world’s largest lithium sorting plant

TOMRA Mining says it is in the process of installing what will be the world’s largest lithium mineral ore sorting plant at Pilbara Minerals’ Pilgangoora project in Western Australia.

The installation has already started and is expected to reach completion in late 2023.

Pilbara Minerals says it owns the world’s largest, independent hard-rock lithium mine, producing a spodumene and tantalite concentrate. Through its P680 Expansion Project, the company has plans to step-up its production run-rate at the operation to a total of circa-680,000 t/y of spodumene concentrate. The sorting plant is part of this project.

Dale Henderson, Managing Director and CEO, Pilbara Minerals, said: “This new facility to be constructed at our Pilgangoora Project will be the world’s largest lithium mineral ore sorting plant. TOMRA’s experience in large global sorting installations, innovative technology and ability to provide local support were significant factors in our decision to work with them. From the start, the TOMRA team has been working side by side with us and our engineering partner DRA Global to deliver this important project.”

As part of this expansion project, Pilbara Minerals turned to TOMRA Mining for assistance to address the key industry challenge in the processing of spodumene feed ore contaminated with barren host rock.

TOMRA has 50 years’ experience in sensor-based sorting technologies and has designed and built 90% of the world’s large-scale mining sorting plants with a capacity above 300 t/h, it says. These include plants such as the Ma’aden Umm Wu’al project, which is operating at 1,850 t/h and the Lucara diamond operation which runs 15 sorters.

Specifically for the Pilbara Minerals project, TOMRA Mining highlighted that it offered effective ore sorting solutions with high sensor resolution and ejection accuracy that ensure high lithium recovery and waste removal with a stable and consistent performance at high capacity.

The TOMRA Mining team conducted a geological assessment of sample ores supplied by Pilbara Minerals. It revealed the pegmatite deposit did have non-lithium bearing host rock intrusions. Some of these minerals have a high density like that of spodumene, which means that it is also concentrated when using heavy media separation (HMS). This reduces the efficiency of the downstream flotation and contaminates the final product. Sensor-based sorting technologies, on the other hand, can measure the colour, density and mineralogical variations in individual particles, enabling the accurate detection and removal of this barren material, the company explained.

Working closely with the Pilbara Minerals metallurgical team, TOMRA conducted extensive test work at the TOMRA Test Center in Sydney, Australia, to check all the options and answer any questions arising during the tests.

The samples were run at capacity on production sorters and included repeatability and variation testing. The test work benchmarked the expected performance of the sorters and was used to establish the sort quality on each of the ore types that will be fed through the plant.

Primero Group, which was awarded the contract for construction of the project, has now started bulk earthworks for the sorting plant.

The TOMRA team was involved not only in the testing and supply of equipment, but also provided assistance with the plant layout and understanding of the implications of sorting on the upstream mining and downstream process of the ore. This involvement throughout the development process will add to efficient operational ramp-up and technical optimisation.

TOMRA’s capability to support the project with a dedicated Australia-based team and a global support structure has been a significant factor and is an important part of de-risking the installation of this new technology. The team is working closely with Pilbara Minerals through the installation process, commissioning and start-up, and will continue to provide on-site support once the sorting plant is up and running.

NRW’s Primero to work on Pilgangoora P680 Expansion Project

NRW Holdings subsidiary, Primero Group, has been awarded a contract by Pilgangoora Operations Pty Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pilbara Minerals Limited, for work at the lithium processing plant that is part of the wider Pilgangoora operation, in Western Australia.

The works to be performed under the contract include upgrading the existing Pilgan lithium processing plant through the construction of a new primary rejection facility and preliminary work in connection with a new crushing and ore sorting facility.

Under the contract, Primero will be responsible for detailed earth and concrete works associated with both the primary rejection and crushing and sorting facilities, together with structural, mechanical, piping, electrical and instrumentation installation associated with the primary rejection facility. Primero will also assist with shutdown, brownfield’s integration and commissioning support to tie the facility into the existing Pilgan plant.

The contract is scheduled to run for approximately eight months, commencing in January 2023, and has an approximate value of A$62 million ($44 million).

NRW Managing Director, Jules Pemberton, said: “This contract builds on a long-term association between POPL and Primero that began with Primero’s involvement in the design and construction of the original Pilgan plant. We look forward to the successful completion of these works.”

The construction activities due to take place on the plant are part of the wider P680 Expansion Project Pilbara Minerals is working on. This could see the company step-up its production run-rate at the operation to a total of circa-680,000 t/y of spodumene concentrate across the combined Pilgangoora operation.

Pilbara Minerals and Calix commit to lithium calcination tech demo plant at Pilgangoora

Pilbara Minerals and Calix have executed a joint venture (JV) agreement for the development of a demonstration plant using Calix’s patented calcination technology at the Pilgangoora project in Western Australia.

The aim of the joint venture is to produce lithium salts via an innovative midstream “value added” refining process leveraging this calcination technology. It will also explore the potential commercialisation of the process.

The objective of the “Mid-Stream Demonstration Plant Project” is to deliver a superior value-added lithium product enabling lower product cost, reduced carbon energy intensity, and reduction of waste product logistics.

The unincorporated JV will be a 55:45 agreement in favour of Pilbara Minerals, with each party funding their share of operating and capital costs and Calix licensing its patented technology and calcination knowhow into the JV. Pilbara Minerals will manage the demo plant at Pilgangoora, overseeing both the construction and operational phases.

A successful demonstration of the calcination technology via this plant may then lead to its commercialisation with the JV licensing the technology to the global spodumene processing industry, Pilbara Minerals says.

It follows a previous agreement signed back in June.

The project aims to demonstrate a superior value-added lithium product to the existing industry supply chain, while also potentially delivering a significant reduction in carbon intensity, with potential industry benefits including:

  • Product cost – the flash calcination technology developed by Calix has the potential to treat very fine spodumene concentrate at lower lithia grades and materially improve overall lithia recovery, thereby enabling a lower cost per lithia unit;
  • Carbon intensity reduction – substantial carbon emission reduction through the electrification of the Mid-Stream process, including spodumene calcining, enabling the potential to use up to 100% renewable sourced power; and
  • Waste reduction/handing – rationalisation of the carbon footprint via reduced waste movement across transport and logistics supply chains from a more lithium-dense, and near zero-waste final product.

Pilbara Minerals’ Managing Director and CEO, Dale Henderson, said: “The Mid-Stream project has the potential to be a game changer for our industry. If successful, we will be able to deliver a superior chemical intermediary product to market compared to spodumene concentrate.

“This intermediate product offers a higher concentration in lithium and less impurities whilst being produced through a new process that reduces CO2 emissions compared to the traditional process route for hard-rock spodumene chemical conversion.”

Tianqi and IGO herald battery-grade lithium milestone at Kwinana refinery

Tianqi Lithium Energy Australia Pty Ltd (TLEA) has announced first production of battery-grade lithium from its plant in Kwinana, Western Australia, marking the first time battery-grade lithium, or lithium hydroxide monohydrate (LHM), has been produced in Australia in commercial quantities.

This is a significant milestone for TLEA and Australian mining as the sector expands to meet rapidly growing demand for rechargeable batteries, primarily from the electric vehicle and energy storage system industries, TLEA, a joint venture between IGO (49%) and Tianqi Lithium (51%), says.

TLEA’s Kwinana plant has successfully met internal certification processes with the on-site laboratory confirming that battery-grade specification has been met on 10 t of lithium hydroxide, produced consistently over several days. Samples have been sent for independent verification, TLEA says.

The next step in the plant’s ramp-up process is customer qualification, which will be completed over the next four to eight months. During this time, the plant will continue to focus on stable, consistent and reliable production of battery-grade lithium.

“We are immensely proud to demonstrate that Australia can value add to its minerals onshore as it enhances its reputation as a critical contributor to the production of batteries for electric vehicles and energy storage, which are absolutely vital for the decarbonisation of the world’s economy,” TLK Chief Operating Officer, Raj Surendran, said.

“This is an exciting time for our shareholders, suppliers and service providers who have contributed to the construction and ramp-up of the Kwinana Plant, and our employees who have worked so hard to turn the dream of producing battery-grade lithium hydroxide in Australia into a reality.

“Today’s milestone proves Australia has the capability and expertise to transition from a ‘dig it and ship it’ minerals supplier to a downstream supplier of value-added product.

“However, we also remain acutely aware that there is more work to do to establish the Kwinana plant as a reliable, significant producer of battery-grade lithium, starting with customer acceptance.”

TLEA owns the first lithium hydroxide plant in Australia and the largest in the world to be built and operated outside of China. Lithium hydroxide produced at the plant will be containerised and exported from the Port of Fremantle to customers around the globe.

Surendran said the first train at TLEA’s Kwinana Plant will now continue its ramp-up towards its nameplate capacity of 24,000 t/y of battery grade lithium hydroxide.

Lithium hydroxide is a lithium-based compound derived from spodumene, a lithium-bearing pegmatite mineral. Spodumene is sourced directly from the Greenbushes mine 250 km southwest of Kwinana (Albemarle 50%, Tianqi Corporation 25%, IGO Ltd 25%).