Pilgangoora - Altura | Mineral Processing | Projects | Primero
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Altura Mining (Altura) owns and operates the world-class Altura Lithium Project in WA’s Pilbara region. The mine commenced production in 2018 and has a production capacity of 220,000tpa of spodumene concentrate.

Altura engaged Primero to achieve sustainable nameplate production through the provision of operational support services, development of a fit for purpose asset management strategy and the implementation of supporting systems / processes to achieve higher plant runtime.

Minerals Design Construct Operate Asset Management

Altura is now focused on the operational ramp-up phase of the Pilgangoora plant. As plant throughput increases, equipment limitations will be identified. To achieve further performance improvement this equipment will need to be modified. Altura has engaged Primero to complete these modifications...Primero is well-positioned in the industry and their outstanding safety record is welcome at Altura Pilgangoora Lithium Project.

Design, Construct, Operate

Primero was recognised for having design, construction, and operational expertise under one roof and a vertically integrated business model that lends itself to agile and often time-poor operational project delivery. Primero previously designed plant mods for Altura, implemented those designs and embedded operational and maintenance personnel with the expertise to help drive their O&M systems, processes, and discipline to the next level.

Our production optimisation scope was approached in two-phases:

Phase 1: early engagement and definition, including risk/benefit review, operational readiness methodology immediate opportunities, and support.

Phase 2: execution and establishment of the asset management strategy, including the establishment of documentation, processes, and procedures, determine asset criticality, maintenance tactics implementation, embed maintenance management processes and operational excellence follow-through.

Phase 1 crystallised in an all-day workshop with Altura, defining risks and opportunities with the potential to immediately impact plant performance. Our services were retained to implement those opportunities in the form of maintenance strategy development and a ‘mod squad’ project team charged with the responsibility to safely drive rapid continuous improvement projects for our client.

Debottlenecking activity played an enabling role in achieving nameplate production. Limitations within the plant that were upgraded include:


The Challenge

Ramp-up performance and sustaining capital cost can be as important to investor value and financial returns as the initial construction capital cost estimate. Process plants are complex systems with many interdependencies, impacted by decisions made in feasibility which are often based on limited information.

When fast-tracking a mineral processing plant project the stakes are high and underperformance is common, resulting in the destruction of project net present value and damage to liquidity and shareholder sentiment. Ramp-up performance typically receives less focus on feasibility and unfortunately case studies bucking the trend of schedule/ramp-up delays are rare.

It’s argued that under-delivery on ramp-up expectations can destroy 30% or more of a project’s expected NPV. Furthermore, Dolby found that this large destruction of NPV project value is often driven by inadequate operational effectiveness.

[ CITATION Dol06 \l 1033 ] [ CITATION War16 \l 1033 ]

Impacts of Delayed Ramp-up:

  • Unforeseen CAPEX to fix the issues.
  • Heightened OPEX and AISC while employing a greater number of FTE’s during a period of duress.
  • Delayed revenue.

Resulting in:

  • Liquidity Shortage.
  • Frustrated Stakeholders and Shareholders.
  • Customer Doubt.

Good Strategy and Execution Matters

Targeted operational readiness, maintenance and asset management strategies improve project outcomes and mitigate the risk of value erosion introduced by undue production delay. Unplanned and emergency work is expensive and high risk.

“Accomplishing ‘one unit’ of maintenance effectiveness will cost $1 in a planned fashion, $1.50 in an unplanned fashion, and $3 if reacting to a breakdown”

Maintenance Excellence: Optimising Equipment Life-Cycle Decisions (Campbell and Jardine, page 7)

“The 35% direct work in reactive mode versus the 65% direct work in pro-active mode provides a simple but clear justification”

Maintenance Planning, Scheduling, and Coordination (Levitt & Nyman, Page 2)

“Implementing proper planning and scheduling can improve productive maintenance time from 25%-35% in a typical organisation without planning to 50%: almost doubling the ability to get work compared.”

Maintenance Planning and Scheduling Handbook, 3rd Edition (Palmer, page 4)


Demonstrated Results

Underscored core values and delivering on promise at Altura.

Accountability - Take Ownership

“Feels like we’re part of a team now and really getting [stuff] done rather than just talking about it.” –  Altura Operations

Efficiency - Work Smarter

“Innovative maintenance plan is delivering longer runtime between shutdowns and ‘modular’ outages, allowing continuity of production of lithium concentrate” – James Brown, Managing Director Altura Mining

Accountability - Uphold Promises

“In a relatively short amount of time, the operations team have made a number of significant improvements to key aspects of the process plant which has delivered a record month of production in May (2019) and strong lithium sales for the current quarter” – James Brown, Managing Director Altura Mining