WA firms scoop lithium awards

18 January, 2017

Local engineering and construction companies have scooped the pool in the rush to build WA’s biggest new lithium mine in the Pilbara. 

Perth-based RCR Tomlinson has won a contract worth up to $148 million to build a processing plant for Pilbara Minerals’ Pilgangoora lithium and tantalum mine near Port Hedland.

Minnovo and Primero are also sharing the booty after RCR engaged them as technical and engineering subcontractors for the Pilgangoora works, due to begin late this quarter.

With these key jobs bedded down, Pilbara Minerals is now confident the $214m mine will begin early production late this year and ship its first concentrates in Q1 2018.

RCR Managing Director Paul Dalgleish says the contract has a total maximum value of $148m with a target price of $138m.

“This win, when added to recent contract awards for the Silvergrass project and Dugald River project, firmly places RCR as a market leader in the engineering, procurement and construction of mineral processing plants in the mining and minerals sector.”

RCR says it plans to use its WA workshops to support and perform some of the fabrication required for the project.

Pilbara Minerals CEO Ken Brinsden praised RCR’s credentials, including the recent delivery of two ore processing plants for Fortescue, which received industry recognition for the speed of construction.

“The combined experience of RCR, Primero and Minnovo has made for a very compelling offering,” Brinsden says.

“Primero’s experience in building and operating lithium plants, Minnovo’s design experience, and the construction capability of RCR ensures Pilbara will be well served.

“With project funding discussions well advanced and final environmental approvals now underway, Pilbara looks forward to starting the major construction works by the end of this quarter.”

OTOC Australia emerged as another winner, with the Osborne Park-based firm winning a $4.8 million contract for the first stage of a 300-room camp relocation package for Pilgangoora.

The mine’s remaining contract packages are either under negotiation or will soon go out to tender, Pilbara Minerals says.

Pilgangoora is one of several new WA lithium mines springing to cater for rampant Chinese demand for the battery-making ingredient.