One of the major Australian mining awards has gone to a Perth-based company that will soon be joining the lithium market to supply the growing Asian market for batteries and electric vehicles (EVs).
The Craig Oliver Memorial Award for this year at the RIU Explorers Conference in the port city of Fremantle has gone to Pilbara Minerals Ltd. The award commemorates a popular industry identity Craig Oliver who was one of several mining executives killed in an aircraft crash several years ago in West Africa.
Pilbara Minerals has the major lithium deposits at Pilgangoora which is also rich in tantalum. The company already has offtake partners including Great Wall Motors, Ganfeng Lithium and General Lithium.
The project is scheduled to begin concentrate production in the second quarter of 2018, for which the blueprint for stage 1 is to produce between 1-2 million tonnes per annum of product.
It is seen as building up to 5 Mtpa capacity. Pilgangoora has the perfect logistics of being due south of Port Hedland, one of Australia’s largest mineral iron ore shipping ports for markets to the north.
Other contenders for this year’s award were Gold Road Resources which has already won several awards in the past 18 months for its big Gruyere gold project in WA’s north eastern goldfields being developed by international miner Gold Fields Ltd; Sandfire Resources which has the highly profitable De Grussa copper-gold mine in WA; Syrah Resources which has the big Balama graphite discovery in northern Mozambique; and Xanadu Mines which has the White Hill copper-gold project in Mongolia.
Sandfire has been a finalist for the Craig Oliver Award for several years and two years ago its chief executive Karl Simich – who had been a founding director of Macraes Mining when that company started up the Macraes gold mine – presented at the AusIMM NZ Mining Conference in Wellington two years ago.