Altura Mining (ASX: AJM) is on track for commissioning its lithium processing plant at its Pilbara-based lithium project within the region’s renowned Pilgangoora district, and has appointed a commissioning manager to oversee the start up.
Commissioning of the crushing circuit in scheduled for March, with the wet plant due to come online in late April or early May.
According to Altura, it is on track for its first lithium concentrate sales in the June quarter.
“It is a testament to the hard work of the entire team that we now have the commissioning phase clearly in sight and taking this project to near term production from a greenfields site,” Altura managing director James Brown said.
A stage two definitive feasibility study is investigating doubling current processing capacity to 440,000 tonnes per annum. The stage two study is due for completion in April.
Prior to the stage two definitive feasibility study, Altura carried out a scoping study to look at increasing the stage one 220,000tpa output of 6% lithium. After examining several options, the scoping study determined duplicating the current plant to double production was the best way forward.
The first feasibility study was completed in 2016 and projected annual spodumene concentrate production of 215,000t for a life of mine net revenue of A$1.56 billion. The annual cashflow was predicted to average at A$73.9 million for the first 11 years, with a 1.7-year payback period.
Once the second definitive feasibility study is completed, Mr Brown said it will enable Altura to strengthen the project fundamentals and increase revenue.
Resources for the Altura-Pilgangoora project are 44mt grading 1% lithium for 441,000t of the metal, while the reserve estimate is 34.2mt grading 1.04% lithium for 357,000t of lithium.
The project encompasses about 394 hectares and is a 120km from Port Headland.
Metallurgical testing has been carried out on Altura lithium, with the company reporting in mid-January, a 25kg spodumene sample had achieved 99.97% purity during conversion process testing.
By late afternoon trade, Altura’s share price was unchanged at A$0.36.