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Pilbara to restart Altura lithium operation, expects to exceed quarterly guidance

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(Kitco News) - Australian lithium producer Pilbara Minerals reported that it has taken further significant steps towards growing spodumene concentrate production at its 100%-owned Pilgangoora project located in Western Australia.

According to a press-release, the company’s Board has approved Ngungaju operation (formally Altura lithium operation) restart aimed at the December Quarter 2021, targeting annual full production capacity of 180,000 to 200,000 dry metric tonnes (dmt) of spodumene concentrate by the middle of calendar year 2022. This will see the combined annual production capacity of the Pilgangoora project increase to 560,000 to 580,000 dmt, the company added.

Pilbara pointed out that the restart will expand production capacity, increase the scale of operations and provide production flexibility as the company looks to satisfy rapidly growing market demand. The integration of the two processing facilities (Pilgan and Ngungaju) and enlarged resource and pit inventories should provide significant operational synergies, enabling the company to realise cost efficiencies across the operation over time, Pilbara explained.

The company noted that the estimated restart cost of $39M (inclusive of plant modifications and operational readiness activities) is consistent with the company’s original valuation at the time of acquisition and are proposed to be incurred over approximately the next 12 months. The company said it is likely to fund the cost of the re-start from existing cash, although consideration will be given to funding support via the potential restructure of the existing syndicated debt facility, provided favourable terms and conditions can be achieved.

Additionally, the company said that spodumene concentrate tonnes shipped for the June 2021 Quarter expected to be ~96,000 dmt, exceeding guidance of 75 - 90,000 dmt.

Pilbara Minerals is the leading ASX-listed pure-play lithium company, owning 100% of the world’s largest, independent hard-rock lithium operation. Located in Western Australia’s resource-rich Pilbara region, the Pilgangoora project and operation produces a spodumene and tantalite concentrate.

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