Pilbara increases output in March quarter

29th April 2019 By: Esmarie Iannucci - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia

PERTH (miningweekly.com) – ASX-listed Pilbara Minerals has upped production in the three months to March, producing 52 196 t of spodumene concentrate, compared with the 47 857 t produced in the previous quarter.

Spodumene concentrate sales for the quarter were down from the 46 598 t reported in the second quarter, to 38 562 t, while tantalite concentrate sales increased from 27 821 t to 30 356 t in the same period.

Pilbara told shareholders on Monday that the sales figures for the quarter were impacted by the delay of one shipment following Tropical Cyclone Veronica.

“The March quarter was another busy period for Pilbara Minerals as we continued to make further operational progress at the Pilgangoora project, while maintaining momentum with our long-term growth initiatives, including the Stage 2 and 3 expansion and our strategy to diversify operations into the downstream chemical conversion industry,” said MD and CEO Ken Brinsden.

He noted on Monday that the operational progress made during the quarter resulted in the declaration of commercial production at Pilgangoora, effective from April 1.

“With the Stage 1 project now in commercial production, our proposed expansion plans are taking shape with the completion of a Stage 3 scoping study highlighting the outstanding economics of increasing production to 1.2-million tonnes a year of spodumene concentrate.”

Following the scoping study, Pilbara started a partnering process for the Stage 3 development to consider further offtake, downstream participation options and the potential sale of a minority interest in the Pilgangoora project.

“The Pilgangoora’s tier-one status has historically attracted strong interest from participants across the global lithium supply chain.

“Our participation in downstream chemical conversion facilities is building momentum through the recent exercise of our option to enter into a joint venture with Posco for a 40 000 t/y lithium carbonate capacity chemical conversion facility in South Korea, as well as the positive scoping study results to evaluate a potential secondary lithium chemical conversion facility,” Brinsden said.

He noted that collectively, these projects had the potential to support further vertical integration for Pilbara, and to diversify the company’s entrance into the lithium market.