Pilbara Minerals Spodumene Soncentrate Lithium Ore

Pilbara Minerals set to restart lithium production at Ngungaju

Pilbara Minerals Limited (ASX:PLS) has announced that it’s set to begin a staged restart of spodumene concentrate (lithium ore) production at its Ngungaju Operation in WA, in response to strengthening demand for the key battery metal.

annual full production capacity of 180,000 to 200,000 dry metric tonnes targeted by the middle of 2022

The restart is slated to begin in the December 2021 quarter, with annual full production capacity of 180,000 to 200,000 dry metric tonnes (DMT) targeted by the middle of 2022. The combined annual production capacity of the Pilgangoora Project is expected to reach 560,000 to 580,000 DMT.

Estimated restart costs of AUD$39M are being funded through cash, while the company is keeping open options for additional funding through a restructure of existing debt if favourable terms are available.

Record quarter expected for June 2021

PLS is expecting to ship ~96,000 DMT of spodumene concentrate during the June 2021 quarter, exceeding its guidance of 75,000 to 90,000 DMT.

Drilling campaign delivers results

On the 23rd of June the company updated the market on results from its ongoing drilling campaign at the Pilgangoora Project, with assay results received for the initial 32 RC holes of the 62-hole program. Intercepts include:

  • 20m@ 1.83% Li2O and 36 ppm Ta2O5 from 28m (PLS1328)
  • 12m @ 1.84% Li2O and 67 ppm Ta2O5 from 5m (PLS1330)
  • 21m @ 1.28% Li2O and 62 ppm Ta2O5 from 25m (PLS1337)
  • 32m @ 1.44% Li2O and 79 ppm Ta2O5 from 159m (PLS1337)
  • 44m@ 1.49% Li2O and 76 ppm Ta2O5 from 146m (PLS1341)

Management comments

Managing Director and CEO Ken Brinsden said “The well-timed acquisition of the Altura Lithium Operations provides Pilbara Minerals with available spodumene concentrate at the same time the market is expected to grow rapidly to deal with the mass global adoption of lithium-ion battery technology for use in clean energy applications.

While production costs will likely be slightly elevated during FY22, we remain confident in both Pilgangoora’s pre-eminent position as an important global lithium raw materials supply base and the trend towards lower cost in the coming years as the Ngungaju Plant restarts, normalises and production settles at a higher rate.

As a team we worked extremely hard to defend our business during what was a difficult period in the market over the last couple of years and we have now emerged much stronger for it. The combination of unallocated spodumene offtake, burgeoning demand and a sophisticated sales channel in the BMX platform makes for a potent combination at Pilgangoora”.

Images: Pilbara Minerals Limited
Written By Jonathan Norris
Jonathan is a founder of Mining.com.au and has been covering the resources industry since 2018. With over 17 years experience in print, broadcast and online media, Jonathan has seen first hand the transformative effect of online niche media.