Lithium developer and soon-to-be producer Altura Mining (ASX: AJM) is preparing to initiate its very first shipment of lithium concentrate in July 2018, after it completed the first stage of commissioning for its flagship Altura lithium project in Pilgangoora, Wester Australia.
The commissioning milestone marks a significant step for Altura and brings the emergent lithium developer one step closer to production.
Altura is targeting a stage 1 production target of 220,000 tonnes per annum of 6%-grade lithium oxide (Li2O), with a follow-up investment decision yet to be confirmed that would initiate stage 2.
Altura’s said its Board intends to make a final investment decision regarding stage 2 expansion “before the end of the financial year”, which would provide a continuous work front for the Stage 1 project team to transition to.
Altura is currently building a leading position in the independent supply of lithium raw materials, with its Pilgangoora-based project set to become one of Australia’s next major hard rock lithium sources later this year.
Projecting lithium production
Altura said its lithium project is “the most advanced stage, near-term producing lithium project” which also has “solid offtake partners” already waiting for its finished lithium concentrate product.
The lithium junior also said that the broader lithium market is currently providing substantial growth opportunities which could help ensure positive shareholder returns.
In April this year, Altura revealed robust economics after publishing its definitive feasibility study into doubling production at the Altura lithium project. Altura could potentially achieve a production rate of 440,000 tonnes per annum of 6% lithium concentrate but would need to spend around A$118 million in additional capital expenditure.
The feasibility study predicts Altura could be in line for total revenue of A$4.38 billion with a 2.3-year project payback period and life of mine earnings of A$2.45 billion.
Altura said that it still has several outstanding milestones to complete before its processing plant is completed, although the main power plant is scheduled to go online on 1st June 2018 with a classification circuit, dense media separation modules and ball mill commissioning to be completed soon after.
“We have to remember this was a greenfield site that required the procurement and installation of all site infrastructure. I am very confident of our team’s ability to commission a processing plant with both dense media separation and flotation circuits and transform us into a producer,” said Mr James Brown, managing director of Altura Mining.
With preparations and commissioning activity ramping up at its lithium project, Altura said it would provide further updates in due course. In the meantime, its shares nudged up to $0.40 per share, up around 2.6%.