Australia-based lithium producer Pilbara Minerals has announced its decision to invest around A$297.5m ($205.51m) to boost production at its Pilgangoora operation in Western Australia.

The firm’s Pilgangoora operation comprises two processing plants, including the Pilgan Plant to produce spodumene concentrate and a tantalite concentrate, as well as the Ngungaju Plant to produce a spodumene concentrate.

The board of Pilbara Minerals has now approved the capital investment for the P680 project, which aims to increase the production capacity of the Pilgan plant to 680,000tpa of spodumene concentrate from the previous 580,000tpa.

Pilbara incoming managing director and CEO Dale Henderson said: “This is an exciting milestone for Pilbara. It reinforces the exceptional scale and quality of our Pilgangoora project, which is one of the few hard rock lithium production operations globally that has both the resource size and existing operating platform to enable a rapid scale-up of production to meet our customers’ long-term requirements.”

Pilbara Minerals will also build a primary rejection heavy media separation circuit (Primary Rejection) to enable the rejection of low-grade waste material.

It is expected to provide an additional spodumene concentrate production capacity of 100,000tpa at an estimated cost of A$103m.

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By GlobalData

Pilbara Minerals anticipates the P680 Project, through the new primary rejection circuit, to achieve higher production volumes at lower unit operating costs.

Henderson added: “This increase in production capacity will enable the company to continue to capitalise on the opportunities in the lithium chemicals market, being driven by a rapid transition to decarbonisation through technologies such as electric vehicles and battery storage.

“The increase in production from the Pilgangoora Project will coincide with the expected commissioning and ramp-up in production from the downstream chemical conversion plant being constructed under our Joint Venture with POSCO, which will see Pilbara Minerals become a fully integrated lithium raw materials company.”

The project also includes the installation of an additional heavy media separation (HMS) circuit, adjacent to the existing HMS circuit.

Furthermore, it will see the installation of new ore sorting technology to the Pilgan Plant’s front-end.