Pilbara Minerals’ 100%-owned Pilgangoora Project and Operation is located 120km from Port Hedland in Western Australia’s resource-rich Pilbara region. The Pilgangoora ore body is one of the largest hard rock lithium deposits in the world and is considered strategically important within the global lithium supply chain.
Located in one of the world’s premier mining jurisdictions, the Pilgangoora operation has access to first-class supporting infrastructure including road and port and is underpinned by strong environmental and safety regulations and social standards.
The operation consists of two processing plants. the Pilgan Plant (our original Pilgangoora plant), located on the northern side of the Pilgangoora area, produces a spodumene concentrate and a tantalite concentrate, and the Ngungaju Plant (pronounced Nuh-ga-ju) is located to the south produces a spodumene concentrate.
The processing plants were named by traditional owners, the Nyamal People in recognition of their connection to country (which the Pilgangoora Project is located on).
Having two processing plants provides Pilbara Minerals speed to market by enabling it to rapidly increase production to satisfy rising lithium market demand and flexibility by being able to blend products to meet customer needs.
An expansion and diversification pathway underpins Pilbara Minerals’ long-term strategy to unlock the full value of the Pilgangoora Operation and become fully integrated within in the lithium raw materials and chemicals value chain.
Mineral Resources are inclusive of Ore Reserves.
Pilbara Minerals acquired Plant Two and its surrounding operations in January 2021, when its neighbour when into voluntary administration.
Following the acquisition, Pilbara Minerals is now focussing on a comprehensive evaluation of this operation including a restatement of Ore Reserves inclusive of Plant Two.
The 2 million tonne per annum (Mtpa) mining and processing operation produces ~330,000 tpa of ~6% spodumene concentrate and 321,000 lbspa of +5% tantalite concentrate. The processing facility consists of a heavy/dense media separation (DMS) circuit to produce a coarse concentrate and a flotation and gravity circuit to produce fines concentrate.
Both the fines and coarse concentrate are blended to deliver a high quality, ~6% spodumene concentrate product to customers.
Following first shipment in October 2018 and the achievement of commercial production in April 2019, Pilbara Minerals continues to optimise Plant One operations to improve processing performance and reduce operating costs.
Following the acquisition of the Ngungaju Plant and its supporting operations, Pilbara Minerals is now focussing on a comprehensive evaluation of this operation.
This evaluation will inform how best to integrate the lithium operations to maximise synergies and provide a pathway to recommence operations at the Ngungaju Plant.
Currently, the operation is in care and maintenance.
The scale of the combined Mineral Resources at Pilgangoora provides significant opportunity for Pilbara Minerals to expand operations and production with market demand.
With latent capacity contained within the combined operation, the first stage of expansion will draw from current assets. Utilising this latent capacity enables Pilbara Minerals to ramp up production rapidly to meet an increase in demand, with less capital investment.
The first stage (Stage 1) of production expansion will be delivered through a series of improvement works to unlock an additional 10-15% (~30- 50ktpa) of production capacity at the Pilgan Plant, followed by recommencement of operations at the Ngungaju Plant.
Prior to the acquisition of Ngungaju Plant, Pilbara Minerals had been undertaking study work to support an optimised and incremental expansion of production capacity through a Stage 2 expansion of the Pilgan Plant.
The proposed Stage 2 expansion would increase processing capacity to 5Mtpa to produce 800-850,000tpa ~6% spodumene concentrate, and 800,000lbspa of tantalite concentrate through three stages.
To evaluate the potential of an incremental expansion, several technical studies have been completed which estimate the next phase of the incremental Stage 2 expansion capacity would be capable of being delivered within approximately nine months following a financial investment decision.
The ability to manufacture high-value battery-grade lithium products through downstream processing has the potential to deliver significant additional value for Pilbara Minerals. Recognising this, Pilbara Minerals is pursuing a pathway to become a fully integrated lithium raw material and chemical supplier.
Through its relationship with POSCO, Pilbara Minerals is pursuing a proposed downstream joint venture (JV) for the development of a 43,000tpa LCE (lithium carbonate equivalent) lithium chemical conversion facility in South Korea. It is proposed Pilbara Minerals will initially hold a 21% interest in the JV, with an option to increase to 30%.
The facility plans to use POSCO’s patented PosLX purification process to produce industry leading, high-grade hydroxide and carbonate products from the Pilgangoora Project’s spodumene concentrate.
This JV provides Pilbara Minerals a first-mover position in this fast-growing Korean market with a strategic partner. POSCO is one of the largest suppliers of steel to the global automobile industry and has a vision is to become a ‘total solution provider’ for EVs.
Pilbara Minerals has attracted a group of high quality, experienced global offtake partners including Ganfeng Lithium, General Lithium, Great Wall Motor Company (SVOLT), POSCO and Yibin Tianyi.
Collectively, these partners underpin the Pilgan Plant’s production and its proposed Stage 2 expansion.
Pilgan Plant - Stage 1 in production ~330,000tpa nameplate of 6% spodumene concentrate.
Upon successful completion of Stage 1 improvement works, which are currently underway, Pilbara Minerals expects production capacity to increase by a further 10 to 15% (+30-50ktpa).
Stage 1 production from the Pilgan plant is fully allocated under offtake agreements with leading lithium carbonate and hydroxide chemical convertors including Ganfeng Lithium, General Lithium, Great Wall Motor Company (SVOLT) and Yibin Tianyi, which is affiliated with global battery manufacturer CATL.
Pilgan Plant - Stage 2 expansion ~850,000tpa to 900,000tpa nameplate of 6% spodumene concentrate.
The expansion is expected to lead to total production of ~ 850,000tpa to 900,000tpa, assuming the successful completion of the Stage 1 improvement works. This additional production is conditionally allocated under offtake agreements with Great Wall Motor Company, Ganfeng Lithium and POSCO. The conditions of this offtake include a final investment decision and completion of the Stage 2 expansion works and in respect of POSCO, Pilbara Minerals’ participation in a downstream joint venture for a lithium hydroxide conversion plant in South Korea.
No offtake has been allocated for the production from the Ngungaju Plant.
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