The Western Australia-based project is on track for commissioning this quarter, and the company says sales are set begin the following quarter.
Civil works and the tailings storage facility have reached practical completion, and key items such as crushing and screening plants, dense media separation modules and high-pressure grinding rolls are all close to completion as well. Additionally, construction of the run-of-mine wall is complete, and Altura notes that the mine operations center is fully operational.
“The Board and Management of Altura outlined an aggressive timetable when we broke ground in March last year on the Altura Lithium Project, to place the company in a position to become the first major producer in 2018,” said James Brown, managing director of Altura.
He added, “[t]he work completed since then has been outstanding and to be nearing completion on the mine site within this specified targeted date keeps Altura firmly on track to start commissioning in Q1 2018, with product sales to commence in Q2 2018.”
A definitive feasibility study for Altura pegs average annual production at 220,000 tonnes of spodumene concentrate grading 6 percent Li2O. However, last November Altura began a definitive feasibility study to look at the viability of raising output to 440,000 tonnes of spodumene concentrate a year. The study was initiated at the request of Altura’s offtake partners, and should be finished in April 2018.
As of last July, Altura had two binding offtake agreements in place for output from the project. One is with Chinese battery manufacturer Shaanxi J&R Optimum Energy (SZSE:300116) for an annual 100,000 tonnes of spodumene concentrate grading 6 percent Li20; the other is for the same amount and is with lithium product specialist group Lionergy. Both deals will be in place for a minimum of five years.
Altura’s board recently gave the green light for an owner/operator model for the processing plant at the project. The company believes the model will be beneficial from a cost point of view, and says it will allow it to “manage and control this vital step in the delivery of an optimal product to the market.” Key staff are already in place, and Altura is currently recruiting the other staff required.
The company’s share price was sitting at $0.49 as of 1:51 p.m. EST on Monday, up 3.16 percent. In the last year, Altura’s share price has gained 10.11 percent.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Charlotte McLeod, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.