Pilbara Minerals has begun initial work on the 5Mtpa expansion programme at its Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum project in Western Australia. 

The company issued a final contract award on a build, own, and operate basis to Contract Power Group for the site energy supply construction and ongoing operations.

The contract involves the application of dual fuel, either gas or diesel, within the first two years and for solar-hybrid applications in future.

Pilbara noted that its Stage 1, 2Mtpa project is at advancing towards first production and expects to begin shipments of spodumene concentrate in the second quarter of 2018, with mining operations scheduled to begin in November this year.

Following the 5Mtpa expansion plan, the mine will have an enhanced production capacity of around 100,000tpa of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE).

“Following the 5Mtpa expansion plan, the mine will have an enhanced production capacity of around 100,000tpa of lithium carbonate equivalent.”

Currently, metallurgical testwork and engineering are now underway as part of the expansion project.

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The company said that site works at Pilgangoora included the commissioning of around 60 rooms at the camp, with an additional 240 scheduled to be completed next month.

Bulk civil earthworks are underway at the site, with most of the plant pads ready for handover to RCR.

In addition, work relating to tailings dam pad preparation is at an advanced stage, while upgrades to site access road are underway.

Image: Operations at Pilbara’s project in Pilbara Minerals. Photo: courtesy of Pilbara Minerals.