Commodities, Lithium, News

Pilbara Minerals nonplussed by lithium slump

Pilbara Minerals spodumene

The rise of Pilbara Minerals has captured the world’s imagination, with the demand for its spodumene concentrate growing despite a bearish short-term lithium outlook.

In the space of a month, Pilbara Minerals has expanded two key offtake partnerships connected to its Pilgangoora lithium operation in Western Australia.

Firstly, Ganfeng Lithium Group increased the scope of its contract with Pilbara Minerals, adding up to 150,000 tonnes (tpa) of spodumene offtake each year across 2024, 2025 and 2026.

An existing contract with Ganfeng sees Pilbara Minerals supply 160,000tpa of spodumene per annum. With the recent expansion, this has the potential to increase to 310,000tpa each year across three years.

Ganfeng Lithium president and vice chair Wang Xiaoshen said the expanded agreement demonstrated the company’s commitment to supporting customers such as Pilbara Minerals to create “cost-competitive” and “high-quality” lithium raw materials.

Pilbara Minerals managing director and chief executive officer (CEO) Dale Henderson said both Pilbara and Ganfeng were committed to extending their positions as “major, low-cost producers in the burgeoning lithium market”.

In early February, it was announced that Chengxin Lithium Group – an integrated lithium chemicals converter that works with the likes of Hyundai, LG Chemical and CATL – would extend a short-term agreement that originally concerned the supply of 70,000t of spodumene from Pilgangoora in the 2023–24 financial year.

Now Pilbara Minerals will supply 85,000t of spodumene in 2024, and 150,000t of spodumene in 2025 and 2026.

Chengxin recognised Pilbara Minerals as a “recognised leader” in the “mining and development of lithium assets”.

Pilbara Minerals appears to be flourishing amidst a volatile market, with a clear vision to not only deliver its P680 project now but also realise its ambition of producing one million tonnes per annum in the years to come.

Achieving these ambitions is not only made possible by the strength of Pilbara Minerals’ executive and operational teams, but also by the strength of the asset, something which former Pilbara boss Dale Henderson discovered when he became CEO of the company.

“When you stood at the centre of the Pilgangoora operation … you could look five kilometres to the north and see the monster outcrop, you could look four-and-a-half, five kilometres to the south and you’d see Altura’s outcrop, and you’d see the south end,” he said.

“As it stands today, Pilgangoora’s strike extent in the key project area is roughly 13 or 14 kilometres.”

Pilbara Minerals doesn’t appear to be worried by the current market slump, with a strong business model to set it up for now and decades to come.

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