Pilbara Minerals is set to increase production over the next 12 months after approving the restart of the Ngungaju plant at its Pilgangoora lithium operation in Western Australia.
The $39 million restart during the December quarter of 2021 is expected to allow the operation’s second plant to reach full capacity of up to 200,000 dry metric tonnes by the middle of 2022.
In conjunction with the operation’s Pilgan plant, Pilbara has targeted 560,000 to 580,000 dry metric tonnes per annum from Pilgangoora.
The Ngungaju restart will entail plant modifications and operational readiness activities.
Pilbara managing director and chief executive officer Ken Brinsden said the operation had aligned well with market demands and Pilbara’s capabilities.
“The well-timed acquisition of the Altura lithium operations provides Pilbara Minerals with available spodumene concentrate at the same time the market is expecting to grow rapidly to deal with the mass global adoption of lithium-ion battery technology for use in clean energy applications,” Brinsden said.
Pilbara finalised its $201 million acquisition of Pilgangoora from Altura in April and has since secured offtake agreements and development contracts to reinforce its position as one of Australia’s leaders in lithium concentrate production.
Brinsden said the coming years showed a lot of promise for Pilbara Minerals.
“While production costs will likely be slightly elevated during FY22 (financial year 2022), we remain confident in both Pilgangoora’s pre-eminent position as an important global lithium raw materials supply base and the trend towards lower cost in the coming years as the Ngungaju plant restarts, normalises and production settles at a higher rate,” he said.
The company also completed a drilling program this June where it hit grades of up to 1.84 per cent lithium oxide.
Brinsden added the exploration program complemented operational developments well.
“As we work towards a restart at the Ngungaju plant, the success of this exploration and drill program and the efforts of our team to further integrate both assets means we can be confident in a bright future for the greater Pilgangoora operation,” he said.
Pilbara’s share price on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) has jumped over 25 per cent in June, and sat at $1.58 per share at time of writing.