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Lithium demand drives inaugural profit for Pilbara Minerals

Pilbara Minerals profit

Pilbara Minerals is starting to enjoy the fruits of its labour, announcing an inaugural full-year profit for the 2021–22 financial year (FY22).

The lithium miner posted a full-year profit after tax of $561.8 million, which came off the back of a 577 per cent increase in sales revenue to approximately $1.2 billion ($175.8 million in FY21).

Pilbara’s Pilgangoora operation in Western Australia delivered a gross margin from operations of $853.5 million, which was more than 1700 per cent higher than FY21. The realised selling price was $US2382 ($3445)/dry metric tonne (dmt).

Total spodumene concentrate shipments from Pilgangoora were 361,035dmt (281,440dmt in FY21), 45,880dmt of which were from the recently restarted Ngungaju plant.

“FY22 has been an incredible year for Pilbara Minerals, with our Pilgangoora operation capitalising on the surging demand for lithium raw materials that we have experienced over the course of the year,” Pilbara Minerals managing director and chief executive officer Dale Henderson said.

“The restart of the Ngungaju plant during the year, together with capacity improvements at the Pilgan plant enabled increased production volumes to sell into this strong pricing environment.

“The combination of strong operational performance and the significant increase in lithium pricing underpinned a robust inaugural profit result and has transformed the company’s balance sheet from the prior year.”

Henderson said Pilgangoora’s Ngungaju plant was on track to achieve a nameplate production capacity of 180,000–200,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) during the September quarter of 2022.

This will increase the operation’s combined annual production capacity from both the Pilgan and Ngungaju plants to 540,000–580,000tpa of spodumene concentrate.

Pilbara recently approved a 100,000tpa expansion of Pilgangoora, which will grow the production profile to 640,000-680,000tpa. The company hopes to eventually produce one million tonnes per annum from Pilgangoora.

The lithium miner has been a major success story of the Australian mining sector, having posted a net loss after tax of $51.4 million in FY21.

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