Pilbara Minerals’ Pilgangoora Mine Leads Global Lithium Production
Pilbara Minerals, a prominent player in the mining sector, has achieved a…
24 August 2023
In a significant development for the construction industry, Liontown Resources Ltd has recently recognised Byrnecut Australia Pty Ltd by awarding them the Underground Mining Services contract for the Kathleen Valley hard rock lithium project. This key appointment underscores Kathleen Valley’s commendable Mineral Resource Estimate, standing at 156 Mt with 1.4% Li2O and 130 ppm Ta2O5.
The expertise Byrnecut brings to the table – notably their comprehensive understanding and capability in underground mining operations – proved instrumental in the tender process. Their history in managing end-to-end underground mining projects, ranging from inception to continuous production, is unparalleled and perfectly suits the magnitude of the Kathleen Valley undertaking.
With plans to initiate operations at 3 Mt/y, resulting in roughly 500,000 t/y of spodumene concentrate, the vision for Kathleen Valley is vast. A prospective expansion in its sixth year is poised to bolster production to approximately 700,000 t/y. The strategic choice of underground mining enhances the project’s eco-friendliness by reducing waste and its environmental impact. This approach also gives direct access to high-quality mineralisation. The incorporation of an all-encompassing ore flotation circuit is anticipated to achieve an impressive recovery rate of 78% throughout the mine’s lifespan, with tantalum concentrate recovery estimated at 42%.
This significant award follows a meticulous tender process, kickstarted in March 2023. This comprehensive tender encapsulates every facet of underground construction, especially focusing on substantial preliminary capitalised development and extensive production as the operation burgeons.
The comprehensive contract, worth an impressive A$1 billion over a span of four years, envelops operating costs, sustaining capital, and early works aimed at the potential 4 Mt/y expansion. The tender’s assessment matrix also prioritised Health, Safety, Environment and Quality (HSEQ), technological innovation, community involvement, and an illustrious track record.
A salient aspect of Byrnecut’s ethos is their commitment to Indigenous engagement in mining, evident in their collaboration with the Tjiwarl Traditional Owners.
The accolade for Byrnecut emerges from their unparalleled prowess in large-scale underground mining. This is further validated by their intended A$125 million investment in cutting-edge equipment, signaling their dedication to the success of the Kathleen Valley project. As operations progress, Byrnecut will commence mobilisation to the Mt Mann site, a pivotal hub for future underground operations.
While the official contract is in its final stages of approval, its endorsement empowers Liontown Resources to conclude the operating costs review for the Kathleen Valley Project.
Tony Ottaviano, Liontown’s Managing Director and CEO, articulately shared, “This partnership with Byrnecut signifies a transformative phase for Kathleen Valley. Byrnecut’s reputation as a top-tier underground mining services contractor is globally acknowledged. Their dedicated workforce, many of whom have a ten-year tenure, attests to their excellence. The synergy between our entities has already borne fruit in the form of an optimised mine plan. The magnitude of this contract, approximating A$1 billion, speaks volumes about the scope of the project and our joint ambition. We eagerly anticipate the commencement of production by mid-2024 and cherish our collaboration with Byrnecut in this monumental journey.”