Diggers & Dealers: Pilbara Minerals urges lithium sceptics to become believers

The Pilgangoora site. Image: Pilbara Minerals

Pilbara Minerals managing director Ken Brinsden is determined to convert sceptics that remain unconvinced of lithium’s bright future.

Lithium has been viewed as Western Australia’s next major mining sector for a few years now, with demand for high-grade materials, mainly from China, expected to increase significantly for the production of lithium-ion batteries.

Several companies are capitalising on this forecast, including Pilbara Minerals, which has rapidly moved its Pilgangoora lithium project into construction.

Despite the estimated demand and growth in lithium projects, Brinsden believes there are still sceptics who question the emerging sector.

Speaking at Diggers & Dealers on Monday, Brinsden reinforced the fundamentals that supported a strong future for lithium and why the so-called battery metal would be in high demand over the coming decades.

“This is the real deal,” Brinsden said. “Lithium-ion batteries are now in essence the go to rechargeable battery.

“The reason it has become the preferred battery is because it’s lightweight, high power, relatively green and it’s going to become a low cost technology.”

Brinsden pointed to research from metals consultancy, Roskill, which forecasted recently that supply growth of lithium raw materials was set to increase 250 per cent by 2025.

He also explained why WA’s lithium prospects are well placed to take advantage of the demand growth through the state’s hard rock sources, which have historically been overlooked on the global market for lithium from brine mines.

“The material type referred to is called battery grade. It’s a higher specification than the historical norm, and because of that, some of the competitive advantage of the brine source of supply historically is being eroded because it is higher to enrich your brine to become battery grade,” Brinsden said.

“Basically it has to be more money spent on it than would have been the case historically.”

Pilbara launched construction at the hard-rock Pilgangoora project earlier this year after making a final investment decision (FID) and securing all of the required approvals.

If there were any sceptics of Pilgangoora, Brinsden did his best to convert them as well, while also spruiking the company’s next prospect in the region.

“Based on what we learned now about Pilgangoora and what we understand of the Wodgina resource there is every reason to believe that Pilbara owns two of the three premier lithium tantalum resources in the Pilbara, potentially in Western Australia,” Brinsden said.

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