Emerging lithium and tantalum producer Pilbara Minerals Ltd (ASX: PLS) has taken home the 2018 Craig Oliver Award, presented this morning at the 17th annual RIU Explorers Conference in Fremantle.
In front of a packed auditorium on the 2nd day of the sold-out conference, Pilbara Minerals’ Managing Director and CEO Ken Brinsden accepted the award from Brendan Jones – brother-in-law of the late Craig Oliver.
The award– a unique and substantial sculpture in silver, titanium, copper and gold – is presented annually to an ‘all round’, small-to-mid cap Australian mining company which has excelled in areas including exploration, mining, corporate, market results, environmental and community over the past 12 months.
Pilbara Minerals won the coveted award from a list of five highly-successful nominees including Gold Road Resources (ASX: GOR), Sandfire Resources NL (ASX: SFR), Syrah Resources Ltd (ASX: SYR) and Xanadu Mines Ltd (ASX: XAM).
It was a tough decision given the calibre of this year’s nominees who have all individually experienced significant success over the past twelve months,” RIU Explorers Conference organiser Stewart McDonald said.
“However, the award committee in the end agreed Pilbara Minerals was a deserved winner as it was regarded as the best all-rounder among the nominees.
“I, along with the rest of resources industry, will watch with great interest over the coming months as Pilbara Minerals brings Pilgangoora into production.”
In accepting the award, Mr Brinsden said the minerals industry only thrives when people take risks and spend money in the ground.
“We were spending money in the ground when lithium wasn’t sexy. We were prepared to back the project given the quality of the project.
“We are working on a fantastic project with a really strong team.
There is an old saying, dig a hole and set yourself free and at Primary Minerals we are doing our best to live up to that ideal.
It has been an extremely busy year for Pilbara Minerals as it brings its world-class, 100% owned Pilgangoora Lithium-Tantalum Project – 120kms from Port Hedland in the Pilbara region – into production.
Pilgangoora is recognised as one of the largest spodumene-tantalite resources in the world with significant further exploration upside.
The company’s aim is to rapidly advance Pilgangoora towards production to take advantage of the surging demand for high-quality lithium products including lithium-ion batteries to power electric vehicles.
First lithium concentrates are expected to be produced from Pilgangoora in June with the project to initially produce 2 million tonnes per annum.
Recently, a Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS) for Stage 2 expansion from 2Mtpa to 5Mtpa at the project delivered exceptional results.
A Definitive Feasibility Study for Stage 2 expansion is on track for completion by mid-2018, paving the way for a Final Investment Decision in third quarter 2018, start of construction by fourth quarter 2018 and commissioning from fourth quarter 2019.
On the corporate front, the company has already locked in offtake deals with Chinese suppliers of lithium products and an MoU for a potential joint venture to provide lithium hydroxide to the South Korean battery industry.
The Craig Oliver award – now in its eighth year – is in memory of Craig Oliver who passed away when the Sundance Resources plane he was on tragically crashed in the Congo with the loss of all people on board.
For the first time in its 17-year history, The RIU Explorers Conference has expanded to a three-day event to meet the overwhelming demand from resource companies seeking to present and/or exhibit.
The event – which has always begun the resource conference year – features presentations from 58 resource companies exploring and/or mining for commodities ranging from precious metals (gold and silver), base metals (copper, nickel and zinc) through to the in-vogue energy metals (cobalt and lithium).
Along with the presentations, over 70 exploration and mining companies, government bodies and mining services companies are featured in the RIU Explorers Conference exhibition area.