Lithium miner Pilbara Minerals has got the board approval for a staged restart of the Ngungaju Plant at its Pilgangoora project in Western Australia.

Set to commence operations during the December quarter of 2021, the plant was placed on care and maintenance since October 2019.

It will have a peak annual production capacity of up to 200,000 dry metric tonnes (dmt) by mid-calendar year 2022.

Estimated to cost $29.6m (A$39m), the restart work for the plant involves plant modifications and operational readiness activities. It is planned to be completed within the next 12 months.

Pilbara Minerals expects the plant restart to expand production capacity and provide production flexibility to meet the growing market demand.

The Ngungaju Plant, together with the existing Pilgan Plant, aims to produce between 560,000dmtpa and 580,000dmtpa from Pilgangoora.

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In a press statement, Pilbara Minerals said: “The integration of the two processing facilities (Pilgan and Ngungaju) and enlarged resource and pit inventories should provide significant operational synergies, enabling the company to realise cost efficiencies across the operation over time.”

Pilbara acquired the Ngungaju operations, which was earlier called the Altura lithium project, in January this year.

Pilbara Minerals managing director and CEO Ken Brinsden said: “The well-timed acquisition of the Altura Lithium Operations provides Pilbara Minerals with available spodumene concentrate at the same time the market is expected to grow rapidly to deal with the mass global adoption of lithium-ion battery technology for use in clean energy applications.

“The combination of unallocated spodumene offtake, burgeoning demand and a sophisticated sales channel in the BMX platform makes for a potent combination at Pilgangoora.”