Mineral Resources (ASX: MIN) has noted that an article in The Australian newspaper today refers to an Amendment Notice recently issued by the Western Australian Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) in relation to the Wodgina lithium plant.
The commissioning of a processing plant such as Wodgina commences with the introduction of water, to ensure completeness of construction. Eventually solids are introduced gradually into the plant, and occasionally turned off and the plant flushed with water as the plant is fine tuned.
As a result, the level of solids going into the tailings dam during commissioning will be less than will be the case during steady-state operation. Commissioning of processing plants require the approval of regulators such as DWER regarding the licensing of the plant. DWER has requested further information about the water balance at the project before it will permit commissioning of Train 2 to commence.
The Company is working with DWER to provide it with this information, which it expects to do within the week.
This information is only available as a result of the commissioning of Train 1, which is presently underway. Until approval is received from DWER, Train 2 commissioning will be limited to running water. These discussions with DWER are not expected to have any material impact on the project or on the Company’s financial position.
In addition, based on the information received to date through the commissioning phase, the Company confirms that the tailings dam is functioning as expected and engineered. Tailings dams are designed to account for seepage and initial rates of seepage at Wodgina are in line with the Company’s expectations for the establishment of this dam. The Company has monitoring points set up around the dam and will continue to monitor water levels as planned.
The Company notes there are over two hundred and fifty million tonnes of lithium-bearing ore in the vicinity of the site and that impurities in the water are again in line with expectations of the Company.
Separately, The Australian ran an article on 25 June 2019 regarding the airport at Wodgina which suggested that appropriate approvals for the airport were not in place. This is factually incorrect. The Company has in place all the appropriate approvals to operate this airport and further notes that the Wodgina mine has in fact previously had an airport at site.
Dozens of mine sites around Western Australia have airports such as the one at Wodgina, primarily to ensure the safety of the workers at these mines. Construction of the airport runway at Wodgina is complete and the Company continues to work with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority in relation to it.
The first test flight is scheduled tomorrow and the first charter flight is scheduled for early October.
The Company separately notes the Port Hedland Council was recently dismissed for dysfunction.