Australian Government becomes a cornerstone investor in Pilbara Minerals

The Pilgangoora site. Image: Pilbara Minerals

Australian Government-owned Clean Energy Finance Corp (CEFC) has emerged as a cornerstone investor in lithium aspirant Pilbara Minerals, which is developing the Pilgangoora project.

The CEFC was involved in Pilbara Minerals’ recently completed $US100 million ($130 million) bond issue with a $US15 million investment.

Pilbara Minerals plans to use the bond issue, together with an $80 million capital raising it secured earlier this month, to fund the $234 million development of a stage 1, 2Mtpa operation at Pilgangoora.

This is the first time the CEFC has participated in a US denominated bond issuance, which it said reflected its role in creating new sources of finance to support the clean energy market, as well as demonstrating the potential of various debt instruments to finance greenfield projects.

CEFC chief executive officer Ian Learmonth said the investment was a prime example of how the CEFC could support the development of a strong clean energy supply chain to further enable Australia’s transition to a low carbon economy.

“Lithium is an essential part of the clean energy transition, particularly as we develop enhanced battery storage technologies that will allow us to increase the use of renewable energy, both for large-scale and small-scale projects,” Learmonth said.

“Worldwide demand for lithium is growing, driven by the increasing uptake of electric vehicles that use lithium ion batteries, and by the growth in energy storage solutions requiring lithium supplies.

“The lithium concentrate supplies to be produced by this project will help build Australia’s capacity to supply much needed resources for the clean energy technologies that are set to play a vital role in increasing the use of renewables in our future energy mix.”

Pilbara Minerals officially approved the Pilgangoora project last week after finalising its funding agreements.

The company will now start construction activities as it works toward the first shipment of spodumene and tantalite in the second quarter of 2018.

Pilbara Minerals CEO Ken Brinsden welcomed the CEFC as a cornerstone investor of the company.

“The CEFC’s core investment objectives are to catalyse and leverage an increased flow of funds for the commercialisation of Australian-based renewable energy, energy efficiency and low emission technologies,” Brinsden said.

“CEFC’s investment highlights the important role that Australia can play in the supply of lithium raw materials to the rapidly-growing battery market – helping to cement our key position in the global supply chain for renewable energy storage, electric vehicles and other clean energy initiatives.”