Tawana Resources and joint venture (JV) partner Alliance Mineral Assets (AMAL) have started commissioning of the Dense Media Separation (DMS) circuit at the Bald Hill lithium-tantalum mine in the Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia (WA).

Bald Hill is a 50:50 JV project between Tawana and AMAL, comprising four mining leases, one mining lease application, 12 exploration licences, eight prospecting licences and one general purpose lease totalling 774km².

The Bald Hill project is located 50km south-east of Kambalda in the Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia, and around 75km south-east of the Mt Marion Lithium project.

The JV is targeting first production from the project in the current quarter, with first delivery expected in April.

Tawana noted that the Bald Hill power plant is operational and the motor control centre/low-voltage (MCC/LV) switch room has been commissioned.

“This is a pivotal time for the project, as we make the transition from a developer to producer.”

The JV has also started other activities such as dry commissioning, crushing and stockpiling of ore, while wet commissioning is scheduled to begin on 21 February.

If wet commissioning is successful, the JV expects to start feeding ore to the DMS plant in early March.

Tawana managing director Mark Calderwood said: “We have reached the commissioning stage where construction transforms into operations.

“The plant will be ramped-up to full production run rate over several months; however, we will be producing spodumene concentrates from the day ore is fed to the DMS circuit.

“This is a pivotal time for the project, as we make the transition from a developer to producer.”

Primero Group has designed and developed the Bald Hill DMS and fines tantalum circuit, will operate the plant under an operations and maintenance contract.

The Bald Hill project has an indicated and inferred mineral resource estimate of 18.9 million tonnes (Mt) at 1.18% Li2O and 149ppm Ta2O5 at a 0.5% Li2O cut-off.