LITHIUM: Spodumene concentrate produced from Ngungaju plant

Australian lithium producer, Pilbara Minerals has announced that it has successfully produced the first spodumene concentrate from the coarse circuit at the recently restarted Ngungaju Plant, part of its 100%-owned Pilgangoora Project in West Australia.

The restart of the coarse circuit at the Ngungaju Plant is expected to accelerate spodumene concentrate production (compared to the Company’s original program), with construction, commissioning and ramp-up works progressing for both the fines and coarse concentrate circuits.

The re-commencement of the coarse circuit will initially utilise existing weathered ore already stockpiled at Pilgangoora that was not amenable to flotation, but which now provides an opportunity for low-cost ore to be fed into the Ngungaju Plant during the initial ramp-up period when concentrate is sourced solely from the coarse circuit.

This weathered ore feed is expected to be utilised through to the re-commencement of production from the fines circuit (expected during the March 2022 quarter), at which time fresh ore from the South Pit will be introduced to the Ngungaju Plant.

Initial production from the coarse circuit is expected to yield lower lithia recoveries, which should improve once the fines circuit is re-commissioned and optimised. Full ramp-up of the Ngungaju Plant at optimised lithia recoveries is expected by the middle of calendar year 2022.

KEY POINTS

  • First spodumene concentrate production achieved from the coarse production circuit at the Ngungaju Plant, marking another key milestone in Pilbara Minerals’ rapid growth trajectory.
  • Pilbara Minerals will continue to progress the staged restart and ramp-up of production at the Ngungaju processing facilities, with production from the fines concentrate circuit expected to commence during the March Quarter 2022.
  • The Ngungaju Plant is targeting annual production capacity of approximately 180,000 to 200,000 dry metric tonnes (dmt) by mid-2022, which will complement the existing production capacity from the adjacent Pilgan Plant (~330,000tpa increasing to 360-380,000tpa following completion of improvement works during the December quarter 2021).
  • Production from the Ngungaju Plant is uncommitted to offtake and should support further sales into the emerging spot market for spodumene concentrate, including via the recently launched BMX digital sales platform.

FY2022 spodumene concentrate production guidance across the entire Pilgangoora Project is targeting 460,000-510,000 dmt – refer to ASX release dated 26 August 2021.

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