Pilbara Minerals plots $1.2b path to double lithium output at Pilgangoora

Daniel Newell
The Nightly
Pilbara had $1.8b in the bank at March 31.
Pilbara had $1.8b in the bank at March 31. Credit: Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg

Pilbara Minerals could spend another $1.2 billion to double production from its Pilgangoora lithium project south of Port Hedland as it bets on the long-term prospects of the key battery material.

The Dale Henderson-led miner is already on track to lift annual output of spodumene concentrate to one million tonnes once it completes expansion and ramp-up works in the September quarter of 2025 under its so-called P1000 growth phase.

Pilbara on Friday released a pre-feasibility study on further possible expansion, with the potential additional of a whole-of-ore flotation plant that would take production to an average of 1.9mtpa in the first 10 years, with more than 2mtpa over the first six years after ramp up.

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A feasibility study has been commissioned and is expected to be completed later next year. If the project gets the green light, production towards the 2mpta target could begin in 2028.

Mr Henderson said the expansion — dubbed P2000 as the miner continues to play off its traditional P-prefixed phased growth plans — said the study demonstrated a strong value accretive project that followed a 35 per cent reserve upgrade for Pilgangoora to 214mt in August last year.

“The scale benefits of this expansion will further build on Pilbara Minerals’ position as one of the major leading lithium suppliers globally,“ he said.

“As we have done in the past, the timing of the final investment decision will be considered in conjunction with prevailing market conditions and only proceed when it makes sense to do so.”

Pilbara had $1.8b in the bank at March 31, a sizeable cash pile that was built off record high spodumene concentrate prices of about $US7000/t in late 2022.

But the market for the battery ingredient took a sharp turn on waning demand at the end of 2023 and Pilbara achieved an average realised price for its 5.3 per cent grade product of just $US804 per dry metric tonne in the March quarter.

The PFS price assumptions are based on long-term 5.2 per cent grade concentrate prices of $US1300/t.

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