Plant pad construction at Pilbara Minerals' Pilgangoora lithium mine, 120km from Port Hedland.

Pilbara Minerals has begun work on an expansion of its Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum project, which could make it the biggest lithium mine in the world depending on the timing of the proposed expansion of Greenbushes in the South West.

Pilbara announced yesterday it had begun metallurgical testwork and engineering on the stage two expansion, which would lift Pilgangoora’s production from 2Mtpa to 5Mtpa.

The company said it had appointed former Fortescue Metals Group Executive Dale Henderson to manage the balance of stage one, allowing Project Manager Jason Cross to focus on the expansion. 

Pilbara Minerals Managing Director Ken Brinsden said stage two would allow the company to lift Pilgangoora’s production to more than 800,000tpa of spodumene concentrate.

The company is targeting a definitive feasibility study on the expansion by mid-2018.

Contract Power Group has won a build, own and operate contract for a dual-fuel (gas or diesel) power station with future solar-hybrid capabilities at Pilgangora.

Pilbara hopes to ship first spodumene concentrate from Pilgangoora in the second quarter of 2018.

Picture Pilbara Minerals Managing Director Ken Brinsden The West Australian.