Pilbara Minerals Bumps Up Pilgangoora Resource Ahead of Production

- May 29th, 2018

The 36-percent increase raises the Australian lithium asset’s measured, indicated and inferred resource to 213 million tonnes.

Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) has boosted the resource estimate for its Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum project in Western Australia.

According to a Tuesday (May 29) press release, the 36-percent increase raises the asset’s measured, indicated and inferred resource to 213 million tonnes grading 1.32 percent Li2O, 116 ppm Ta2O5 and 0.69 percent Fe2O3, containing 2.82 million tonnes of lithium oxide and 54.6 million pounds of Ta2O5.

“Another big jump in resource tonnes, a massive uplift in the measured and indicated resource categories and a higher overall lithia grade are the key features of this latest resource upgrade,” said Managing Director and CEO Ken Brinsden in the announcement.

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He continued, “[w]ith well over 150,000m of RC and diamond drilling completed on the project, Pilgangoora clearly has a sufficiently large resource inventory to underpin a world-class, expandable, low-cost mining operation for decades to come.”

The AU$284-million project is Pilbara’s flagship asset, and the company believes it is one of the world’s premier lithium developments and growth projects.

Pilgangoora is only a few weeks away from stage-one production, and the project’s anticipated initial annual output of 300,000 to 350,000 tonnes of spodumene is all committed under offtake deals with General Lithium and Ganfeng Lithium (SZSE:002460).

According to Brinsden, the company continues to be inundated with requests for lithium. “Come back to us in a couple of years,” Mining Journal quotes him as saying at the recent Resources Rising Stars conference in Queensland.

Stage-two production is already committed as well. Ganfeng, along with Great Wall Motors (HKEX:2333) and POSCO (NYSE:PKX), have options over the 500,000 to 550,000 tonnes of annual capacity planned.

Signed last year, the offtake with Great Wall was the first investment deal by an automaker into an upstream supplier of lithium raw materials.

Pilbara locked in its sales deal with POSCO in February, agreeing to supply the firm with an initial 80,000 tonnes per year of chemical-grade spodumene concentrate. That amount will rise to 240,000 tonnes per year upon Pilbara’s joint-venture participation in POSCO’s downstream 30,000-tonne-per-year lithium carbonate/lithium hydroxide conversion plant in South Korea.

Despite oversupply concerns earlier this year, lithium prices continue to rise, with major lithium producers FMC (NYSE:FMC) and Albemarle (NYSE:ABM) both recently forecasting price increases.

Key market watchers also see prices staying steady or increasing. Brinsden said at Resources Rising Stars that he is eagerly awaiting Roskill’s 2018 lithium consumption outlook. “It’s due imminently,” he said.

Pilbara’s share price closed Tuesday at AU$0.90.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Georgia Williams, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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