Pilbara Minerals gears up for stage three at Pilgangoora

Coarse concentrate from Pilgangoora. Image: Pilbara Minerals

Pilbara Minerals is on the hunt for offtake partners for stage three of the Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum project in Western Australia following the completion of a scoping study.

The company entered stage one commercial production at Pilgangoora, with a target of two million tonnes a year, at the start of April.

Pilbara Minerals is currently undergoing early works for a stage two expansion to a capacity of five million tonnes a year.

In March, the company finalised a $50 million equity placement with Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium to secure an additional 70,000 tonnes per annum of spodumene concentrate from stage two.

The stage three expansion will potentially push the site’s capacity to 7.5 million tonnes a year at an estimated cost of nearly $226 million. The results of the scoping study show that stage three could produce estimated earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of $10.3 billion across the life of the mine at an average of 1.2 million tonnes a year of spodumene concentrate production.

“Following these results, the company commenced a stage three partnering process to consider further offtake, downstream participation options and the potential sale of a minority interest in the Pilgangoora Project,” Pilbara Minerals managing director and chief executive officer Ken Brinsden said.

“The Pilgangoora project’s Tier 1 status has historically attracted strong interest from participants across the global lithium supply chain.”

Pilbara Minerals’ results in the March 2019 quarter revealed production gains over the previous quarter (December 2018) despite the impact of Tropical Cyclone Veronica, which made landfall at the northwest coast of WA between Karratha and Port Hedland in March.

The cyclone affected several mining companies in the region, including BHP and Rio Tinto.

Pilbara Minerals produced 52,196 dry metric tonnes of spodumene concentrate, up from the 47,859-tonne figure posted in the December quarter. The company also produced 30,356 pounds of tantalite, up from 27,821 pounds in the December quarter.

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