Pilgangoora Lithium-Tantalum Project
Pilbara Minerals’ 100%-owned Pilgangoora Lithium-Tantalum Project, located 120km from Port Hedland in Western Australia’s resource-rich Pilbara region, is one of the biggest new lithium ore (spodumene) deposits in the world, with a globally significant hard rock spodumene resource.
The Project is readily accessible by road, with relatively simple access to existing infrastructure (including downstream port facilities) at the existing port of Port Hedland.
Resources & Exploration
The most recent Mineral Resource update, published in July 2016 and incorporating the results of successful in-fill drilling completed from February to June 2016, comprises a Measured, Indicated and Inferred Resource of 128.6 million tonnes grading 1.22% Li2O (spodumene) and 138ppm Ta2O5 (tantalum) containing 1.57 million tonnes of lithium oxide and 39 million pounds of Ta2O5.
Click here to view the current Pilgangoora Mineral Resource Estimate.
Future drilling focusing on a number of key zones of mineralisation (unclassified resource inventory) at depth below the Western and Central pegmatites is expected to result in further significant increases in the overall resource inventory well above the current 128.6 million tonnes.
The most recent Ore Reserve estimate, published in August 2016, comprises a Proved and Probable Ore Reserve of 69.8 million tonnes grading 1.26% Li2O (spodumene) and 132ppm Ta2O5 (tantalum).
Click here to view the current Pilgangoora Ore Reserve Estimate.
Development & Off-take
A Septemper 2016 Definitive Feasibility Study confirmed a robust, high margin project with a post-tax Net Present Value of A$709 million and a strong Internal Rate of Return of 38.1%.
Based on the proposed 2 million tonne per annum stand-alone mining and processing operation, the DFS forecast current life-of-mine revenue of A$9.23 billion and Life-Of-Mine Project EBITDA of A$4.22 billion over an estimated 36-year mine life.
Pilbara is aiming to commence construction at Pilgangoora by the end of 2016, with commissioning targeted for the end of 2017.
Over 100% of the projected lithium oxide production from Pilgangoora is already subject to either binding off-take agreements or Memorandums of Understanding with major off-take partners in China, Japan, the Americas and Europe.
In July 2016, Pilbara secured a binding off-take agreement with General Lithium, a leading Chinese supplier of lithium products and materials to the fast-growing lithium-battery industry in China. This off-take agreement is for the supply of 140,000tpa of 6% chemical-grade spodumene concentrate from Q1 2018 for an initial 6-year period, with the option to extend for a further 4 years. This represents over 40% of Pilgangoora’s anticipated initial annual output of ~330,000tpa of concentrate (inclusive of technical grade spodumene), from the Phase 1 project.
Pilbara’s aim is to fast-track Pilgangoora towards production to capitalise on the widely anticipated shortfall of lithium in global markets over the next decade, with the Project on-track to commence production by the end of 2017.
In addition to the binding off-take agreement, Pilbara has also signed a binding Memorandum of Understanding with General Lithium to establish a downstream processing joint venture to convert spodumene from Pilgangoora into lithium carbonate and/or lithium hydroxide.
General Lithium’s operating expertise, technology and existing plant designs will facilitate the expedited development of a chemical plant to support Pilbara’s participation in downstream chemical markets.
The ability to manufacture high-value battery-grade lithium products through downstream processing has the potential to deliver significant additional value for Pilbara in the years ahead, with global demand for lithium-ion batteries expected to experience unprecedented growth over the coming decades.
The Board of Pilbara believes this is an important strategic objective to facilitate the Company’s further growth.
For the latest updates on development activities at Pilgangoora, please visit our ASX Announcements page.
Mining of four small hard rock tantalum prospects has been undertaken in the area around Pilgangoora, with recorded production taking place from 1947 to 1978. Concentrate production at Pilgangoora up to 1977 is recorded at 33.31 tonnes of tantalite and 13.1 tonnes of tantalite-columbite (Featherstone 2004).
Pilgan Mining continued large-scale mining operations between 1978 and 1982, and then continued by the Pilgangoora Mining Venture from 1992 to 1996. These operations produced approximately 140 tonnes of tantalite concentrates, from an estimated 800,000 bank cubic metres (UBCMU) of screened alluvial and eluvial material.