Pesky pegmatites thwart Pilbara Minerals' attempt to plan mine
You know you have a decent Lithium resource when you cant even find a spot to build your mine because you keep discovering more Lithium under areas designated for mining infrastructure.
Such is the predicament of Pilbara Minerals who are keen to start planning their mine but keep getting thwarted by pesky Lithium bearing pegmatites that seem to pop up every time the company seeks to drill sterilize a piece of ground for mining plant and equipment.
Pilbara’s giant Lithium resource at the Pilgangoora project near Port Hedland looks set to get even bigger following the release of exceptional new intercepts from the current round of sterilization drilling.
New results show there is still huge upside in the Pilgangoora resource, which has already been upgraded twice in the past 15 months, most recently in July.
The new drilling at the Far East and South End pegmatites identified thick zones of high-grade mineralisation well beyond the current resource boundaries of the Central pegmatite.
Results from the Far East zone have now defined Lithium mineralisation in a single pegmatite that extends over 1km, whilst drilling at South End has indicated the mineralisation remains open to the south, with a thick zone up to 26 metres in width.
Among the best new intercepts from the Far East zone were 27 metres at 1.73% Li2O and 22 metres at 1.89% Li2O, along with high values of tantalum. Drilling at South End intercepted 13 metres at 1.79% Li2O and 26 metres at 1.53% Li2O.
The results were obtained from the first 22 RC drill holes of a new drilling program that began last month. In addition to attempting to sterilize ground for the building of the mine, the program is also targeting near-surface extensions of known pegmatites.
Pilbara Minerals managing director and CEO, Ken Brinsden, said "The new phase of drilling is continuing to reinforce the sheer scale of the Pilgangoora pegmatite field, and the significant potential for further resource growth."
"Most of the drilling we are now doing is designed to assist our mine design team by sterilising locations for key surface infrastructure and helping to finalise open pit designs. It seems that wherever we drill, we find more pegmatites - a nice problem to have but one that needs to be fully dealt with before we start construction."
"Pilgangoora is already established as one of the largest hard-rock lithium deposits in the world, but we still have plenty of additional pegmatite targets that have received little or no drill testing"
Whilst Pilbara Minerals have already made a compelling case for development with last month’s release of a Definitive Feasibility Study, today’s news will add another dimension to the project. A bigger resource strengthens the case for a mooted doubling of milling capacity after three years to 4m tonnes per annum and at that level, the economics of Pilgangoora become even more tantalising.
In other news the Pilbara Minerals board has now approved the sourcing of infrastructure items that have long lead times and the company says it is still on track to achieve commissioning by the end of 2017.
The problem for Pilbara Minerals wont be the sourcing of mining infrastructure but where to place it when it arrives if they keep discovering those annoying Lithium bearing pegmatites in their preferred plant locations.
Pilbara Minerals (PLS)
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