Emerging lithium producer, Tawana Resources (ASX: TAW) is expecting its first spodumene concentrate imminently after dry commissioning activities kicked-off at its 50%-owned Bald Hill project in Western Australia.
“We have reached the commissioning stage where construction transforms into operations,” Tawana managing director Mark Calderwood stated.
“The plant will be ramped up to full production run rate over several months, however we will be producing spodumene concentrates from the day or is fed to the dense media separation circuit,” he said.
Dry commissioning is anticipated to continue till late in the month, with wet commissioning due to begin next week, with first ore fed into the plant scheduled for early next month.
Plant construction started in August last year with mining beginning in the December quarter and ramping up to around 20,000 cubic metres a day by mid-February.
An offtake agreement for 6% bald hill lithium oxide was inked in April last year with Burwill Holdings. The agreement has a five-year term with pricing of US$880 per tonne (free on board from Esperance) set for 2018 and 2019.
The first lithium shipment is planned for April this year.
“This is a pivotal time for the project as we make the transition from developer to producer,” Mr Calderwood said.
Bald Hill encompasses four mining leases, eight exploration licences, eight prospecting licences and five tenement applications covering 774 square kilometres in Western Australia’s eastern goldfields area.
The project has an indicated and inferred resource of 18.9 million tonnes grading 1.18% lithium and 149 parts per million tantalum.
A pre-feasibility study was finished mid-last year that revealed the economic viability of establishing a 1.2mtpa lithium processing plant next to a tantalum facility.
A reserve estimate for the project is anticipated by the end of the current quarter, with further drilling planned to test mineralisation that remains open in multiple directions.
Shares in Tawana rose more than 5% in early morning trade to A$0.48.