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Australian lithium miner Pilbara to restart Ngungaju operations, shares rise

Kitco News

June 25 (Reuters) - Lithium miner Pilbara Minerals said on Friday it would restart its Ngungaju plant in Western Australia in the last quarter of 2021 after a two-year stoppage, on demand prospects for the mineral used to make electric vehicle batteries.

The announcement sent the company's shares up nearly 4% to their highest in almost three months.

Rising electric vehicle (EV) demand from China is expected to support lithium prices after a three-year downturn, while EV sales in Europe are also rising as countries race to meet new emission targets. Pilbara completed the acquisition of Ngungaju operations, earlier called the Altura lithium project, in January this year. The plant has been in care and maintenance since October 2019.

"The market is expected to grow rapidly to deal with the mass global adoption of lithium-ion battery technology for use in clean energy applications," said Pilbara Chief Executive Officer Ken Brinsden.

The plant is targeting an annual production capacity of 180,000 to 200,000 dry metric tonnes by mid-2022. About A$39 million ($29.59 million) will be invested in the plant over the next 12 months.

($1 = 1.3182 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Arundhati Dutta in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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