Pilbara Minerals to charge ahead with plans amid challenges

The Pilgangoora project. Image: Pilbara Minerals

Pilbara Minerals has achieved record production at its Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum project in Western Australia during May with its stage one plant capacity reaching 85 per cent.

The company does not, however, expect to replicate May’s strong production of 22,375 dry metric tonnes of spodumene concentrate in June as it faces industry challenges.

Pilbara Minerals today reported delays in the construction, commissioning and ramp up of chemical conversion capacity in China, resulting in June quarter sales being constrained.

It will take the opportunity to undertake continued rectification of RCR defects, complete further improvement works and draw-down final product stocks in ramping up to nameplate capacity.

Production results from Pilgangoora are expected to be moderated during June and July.

“It is no secret that the spodumene supply market is experiencing some short-term challenges as the big players, including our cornerstone customers, work to commission and ramp-up their chemical conversion plants in China,” Pilbara Minerals managing director Ken Brinsden said.

“As a business, we have decided to proactively respond to this by working with our long-term partners to assist them where possible during this period. This means that over the coming months we will be moderating production levels to better align our business with expected spodumene demand conditions and use this time to deliver key improvements in the plant.”

Pilbara Minerals will work with its offtake customers to accommodate their revised ramp-up timelines, plus arranging sales to other strategic customers.

The company reported positive news elsewhere, with Pilbara Minerals’ due diligence for the proposed joint venture (JV) chemical conversion plant in South Korea with POSCO now complete.

Its final JV and technology licensing terms for the proposed 40,000 tonnes lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) facility in Gwanyang are close to being finalised and expected to complete within this month.

“This gives us confidence that major strategic players in the lithium industry share our view of the transformational opportunity that will continue to develop in the lithium raw materials sector over the next decade,” Brinsden concluded.

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