Australia lithium miners start cost-cutting drive on price rout

24th January 2024 By: Bloomberg

Australia lithium miners are cutting jobs, trimming exploration budgets and reviewing dividend payments following a slump in prices of the key component in electric-vehicle batteries.

Core Lithium will cut “a number of roles” across the organization during the March quarter due to the current market conditions, the company said in its quarterly report released Wednesday. The producer announced a suspension at its mining operation near Darwin in the country’s north earlier this month.

To help preserve its balance sheet, Pilbara Minerals Ltd. said on Wednesday it’s unlikely to pay a dividend for the half-year ended Dec. 31. The company made the announcement in its quarterly report, along with plans to reduce its annual exploration spend. That cut could be as much as A$100-million.

The latest cost-cutting efforts follow top lithium miner Albemarle’s announcement last week that it’s reducing project spending and costs, including headcount. Prices of spodumene — a lithium-bearing rock — have extended losses in January after plunging 80% last year.

Core Lithium also trimmed its exploration and study budget from A$40 million to A$35-million to A$29-million to A$27-million. The company reported a 39% increase in spodumene concentrate production for the second quarter, while Pilbara Minerals posted a 22% gain for the three-month period.

Pilbara Minerals said spodumene concentrate prices would remain volatile in the near-term, but that the “long-term outlook remains positive with an expected structural deficit of lithium materials supply relative to expected demand.”