After experiencing difficulties achieving stable production throughput at its namesake lithium project in Western Australia, Altura Mining (ASX: AJM) will boost shipments in the wake of processing capability improvements.
Providing shareholders with an update on the ramp-up phase, the company said the product quality of cargoes had improved underpinned by grades as high as 6.2% lithium oxide.
As a result, some cargoes shipped during the December quarter have exceeded customer expectations.
The company is now anticipating several months of steady growth in the production profile of its Pilgangoora-based mine, dispatching at least one cargo a month out of Port Hedland.
This will ramp up to two cargoes each other month once nameplate production of 220,000 tonnes per annum at 6% lithium oxide is reached.
Altura managing director James Brown said it was focused on optimising operational and commissioning processes, which has resulted in improved performances across the board.
“We continue to be buoyed by the quality of product we have shipped to our offtake partners thus far,” he said.
“Four shipments were made in the December quarter, and we plan to maintain both the quality and occurrence of delivery of this high-grade concentrate.”
It hasn’t been smooth sailing for Altura since beginning operations in mid-2018, with the company revealing some challenges at its processing plant.
The issues have largely centred around the consistent running time of the processing plant, and downtime required for modifications to plant components identified during the commissioning and ramp-up phase.
However, there have been steady improvements since these modifications were completed, with the company now confident most of the issues have been rectified.
Last November, the process plant was able to deliver output of up to 70% of nameplate over several continuous 24-hour periods.
All up, Altura has now shipped four cargoes totalling 24,000t to its Chinese customers.
Once stage one is complete, it will turn its focus to stage two which could double the plant’s capacity to 440,000tpa of lithium concentrate.
Underpinning the operation is a current resource of 44Mt grading 1% lithium for 441,000t of contained lithium.
Altura shares gained 3% to $0.17 in morning trade.