Pil­bara eyes long-term lithium project

Pilbara News - - News - Ben Har­vey and Jar­rod Lu­cas

Ken Brins­den-led Pil­bara Min­er­als be­lieves it is sit­ting on the se­cond-big­gest lithium de­posit in the world af­ter an­nounc­ing this week the re­source it con­trols in the North West is 60 per cent big­ger than es­ti­mated.

Pil­bara Min­er­als is seiz­ing on the up­grade of its Pil­gan­goora tan­ta­lum-lithium project to push ahead next month with a de­fin­i­tive fea­si­bil­ity study which Mr Brins­den says will pave the way for min­ing 3.89 mil­lion tonnes of lithium car­bon­ate equiv­a­lent.

“Pil­gan­goora has all the at­tributes to be­come a low-cost, longlife pro­ducer,” he said in a state­ment to the Aus­tralian Se­cu­ri­ties Ex­change. Lithium is a key com­po­nent in new-gen­er­a­tion bat­ter­ies.

There are 40 com­pa­nies chas­ing de­posits in WA.

The pu­rity of the Green­bushes op­er­a­tion, 250km south of Perth, makes it the world’s big­gest lithium de­posit.

Tawana Re­sources has joined the lithium race, with for­mer Perseus Min­ing boss Mark Calder­wood in­stalled as chief ex­ec­u­tive to ex­plore prospec­tive ground in the Gold­fields.

Tawana shares sub­sided 5.3 per cent yesterday to close at 7.2 cents.

Mr Calder­wood said the lithium boom “still has some legs in it”, though many lithium ex­plo­ration stocks were over­val­ued.

He said Aus­tralia had room for fewer than 10 pro­duc­ers of the com­mod­ity. Tawana’s Yal­lari project is on ad­join­ing ten­e­ments to the Mt Mar­ion lithium mine, 40km south-west of Kal­go­or­lie-Boul­der.

Mt Mar­ion co-own­ers Neomet­als and Min­eral Re­sources have re­leased a fea­si­bil­ity study de­scribed as a ma­jor step to­wards com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion of their patented ELi process.

Neomet­als boss Chris Reed said the tech­nol­ogy con­verted spo­dumene con­cen­trate into a lithium chlo­ride so­lu­tion, then used elec­trol­y­sis to pro­duce lithium hy­drox­ide and car­bon­ate.

The fea­si­bil­ity study claimed it would cost $US158 mil­lion to build a pro­cess­ing plant, with pay­back in 2.6 years and $US4.04 bil­lion rev­enue over 20 years.

Pic­ture: Iain Gille­spie

Ken Brins­den says Pil­gan­goora could be a low-cost, long-life pro­ducer.

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