Australian lithium and tantalum producer, Pilbara Minerals Limited (ASX: PLS) has taken a significant step in the development of the world-class lithium raw materials production by declaring commercial production at its Pilgangoora Lithium-Tantalum Project, effective from 1 April 2019.
This announcement of commercial production came after six months of material production and sales marks with sustained performance across Production, Feed-rate, Product Quality and Recovery.
Till now in FY 2019, the company has produced more than 111,199 dry metric tonnes (dmt) of saleable product, and it is expecting 47,000 – 52,000 dmt of spodumene concentrate in the March quarter. The company completed its maiden shipment in October 2018 and till now in FY 2019 it has completed seven shipments of spodumene concentrate, representing sales of 95,270 wet metric tonnes (wmt).
With further optimization of the process plant, the company is expecting further improvement to be made across all performance metrics and it has progressed a series of defined improvement projects which will further improve process plant performance. The estimated cost of the improvement projects is not expected to be material to the overall cost of the plant.
In another announcement on ASX, the company announced that it has commenced a partnering process to interconnect uncommitted Stage 3 Pilgangoora offtake with future JV chemical conversion facilities which will support the company in funding of both the Stage 2 expansion of Pilgangoora and the proposed Stage 3 development. Further, this process will also support growth in the Company’s downstream initiatives.
With the proposed Stage 3 project which is having a potential to increase the Pilgangoora’s processing capacity to 7.5Mtpa, this partnering process is representing a key part of Pilbara Minerals’ long-term strategy to unlock the full value of the Pilgangoora deposit.
The company is also considering the sale of a minority interest of between 20% to 49% in its world-class Pilgangoora Lithium-Tantalum Project and in today’s announcement it has confirmed that it has received interest from third parties with regards to the project ownership and product offtake at Pilgangoora. Pilgangoora is a very important asset for the company and with the increasing demand of lithium in electric vehicle and energy storage markets, it is expected that this project will play a major role in catering the demand of electric vehicle and energy storage markets.
The Company recently completed an updated Scoping Study on the potential for a second 30-60ktpa lithium hydroxide conversion facility and it is expected that this partnering process will explore the potential to jointly progress further studies on this lithium facility.
On the stock performance front, the share price of the company decreased by 20.90% as on 27 March 2019. PLS’s shares are trading at $0.722 (+3.143% intraday) with a market capitalization of circa $1.28 billion as on 28 March 2019 (AEST 1:00 PM). It has a 52 weeks high of $1.125 and 52 weeks low of $0.570.
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