PREMIER African Minerals Limited-owned Zulu Lithium Mine in Insiza District, Matabeleland South Province has now been commissioned with 350 tonnes of spodumene concentrate produced over the past weeks.

The plant can reportedly run continuously while installation of additional new components is set to commence in mid-June to improve plant performance and achieve profitable operations.

This was revealed by the company in an update last Wednesday, saying optimisation of the plant performance is ongoing.

“Zulu has now commissioned the plant and the plant can run continuously. Optimising the plant performance is ongoing and installation of the additional conditioning cell is on target for early July completion.

“While the plant can run continuously and produce spodumene concentrates at up to 50 tonnes per day during this commissioning phase, ongoing testing clearly demonstrated that to achieve recovery and acceptable SC6 grade would require a final modification to the spodumene float circuit. Profitable plant operations require concentrate at grade,” reads the statement.

The company said it was anticipating that the plant could run while the additional conditioning tank was being installed but with no further advances in plant performance without this addition being possible and it is logical to stop the float circuit, in so doing both expedite the changes to be made and preserve cash to the extent possible.

“The civil construction to support this conditioner is expected to be complete by 10 June 2024 and assembly of the new components to commence as soon after 20 June 2024 as possible. The target completion date is now 10 July 2024, and all efforts are targeted at shortening this period,” reads the statement.

Commenting on the latest development, Premier African Minerals’ chief executive officer Mr George Roach said the overall component cost for this change is minor and modest in the context of the plant, the resource, the overall operation and the future of the company.

“I am as deeply frustrated and disappointed as any shareholder would be but the underlying fundamentals of Zulu are compelling,” he said.

The company said approximately 350 tonnes of spodumene concentrate produced over the past weeks has averaged at above four percent Lithium oxide and is saleable.

“This is the first shipment of product from Zulu and the process is carefully monitored by both Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe and the independent inspectorate,” reads the statement.

The mining entity partially suspended plant operations in November last year to allow for civil construction to commence in preparation for the installation of the 55-tonnes per hour ball mill and other associated structures.

After receiving the more steel structures for its mill installation in December, the mining entity had set monthly production of up to 1 000 tonnes of spodumene.

After the successful installation of the additional equipment, the plant commenced operations in March which saw the successful production of saleable spodumene concentrate from the floatation circuit with a consistent improvement in grade.