Lithium producer Altura Mining (ASX: AJM) has begun trucking spodumene concentrate to Port Hedland from the Altura lithium mine in Western Australia’s Pilbara region, in readiness for first exports to China.
Less than two weeks after production began at the Pilgangoora site, contractor Qube Logistics has hauled the maiden product to its purpose-built storage facility at Wedgefield in Port Hedland, approximately 120km away.
Qube will store the product in readiness for shipment to Altura’s China-based offtake partner Lionergy, which indicated in a binding offtake agreement signed in March 2017 that it would like to receive “as much as possible” of the 100,000 tonnes a year minimum 6% spodumene concentrate supply allocation.
Lionergy plans to use the offtake in large-scale lithium conversion tests at its lithium carbonate/lithium hydroxide plant in Inner Mongolia.
Delivery of Altura product into China is expected to take place later this month.
From developer to lithium producer
Altura transitioned from developer to miner last month when it produced the first batch of lithium spodumene concentrate from its wholly-owned namesake project, just 16 months after breaking ground at the site.
Product grades to date have exceeded the industry benchmark SC6 concentrate specifications and “fit comfortably” within requirements from offtake customers.
At full production, expected by year-end, the Altura processing plant will produce 220,000tpa of 6% lithium concentrate to feed into the world’s electric vehicle and static storage lithium battery market.
A definitive feasibility study delivered in April outlined a stage two duplication of the processing plant to produce 440,000tpa of lithium concentrate.
The study demonstrated that expanding output would be an “extremely robust opportunity that would add significant project value” over a short period, at a time when the global lithium market remains strong.
Altura’s end users
Concentrate from the Altura mine will be exported by ship from Port Hedland to lithium alliance partners in China for further processing into a range of lithium chemicals including lithium carbonate (standard and battery grade), lithium hydroxide, lithium metal, and lithium chloride.
Qube Logistics will be responsible for managing the haul from site to storage of approximately 18,000t of Altura concentrate per month at full production, using its fleet of single and double road-trains.
Altura presently has rights to 30,000t of the maximum 40,000t storage capacity at Qube’s facility.
At mid-afternoon, shares in Altura were trading 3.70% higher at A$0.28.