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Australian lithium producer Pilbara approves A$560M expansion project

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(Kitco News) - Lithium producer Pilbara Minerals (ASX: PLS) yesterday announced a final investment decision to increase the nameplate production capacity of the Pilgangoora project by ~47% from ~680,000 tpa to ~1,000,000 tpa of spodumene concentrate (P1000 project).

The company said that the P1000 project includes an expanded concentrator with increased throughput at the Pilgan plant along with a range of supporting site infrastructure, adding that P1000 will initially be executed in parallel with the ongoing P680 project (which will add an additional ~100,000 tpa to the current production capacity of ~580,000 tpa).

According to a press release, P1000 is targeting first ore in the March Quarter 2025 and full production following commissioning and ramp-up at the end of the September Quarter 2025.

Importantly, the company noted that the estimated P1000 capital expenditure of A$560 million (~US$374 million) provides "compelling project economics" with forecast payback from incremental cashflows relative to P680 within 12 months.

Pilbara also said that strategic options to be evaluated to maximize value from additional product from P1000, including long-term spodumene offtake with existing and new customers, together with joint venture partnering opportunities to further integrate the business downstream (in addition to the existing POSCO downstream hydroxide JV).

Managing Director and CEO Dale Henderson commented, "The P1000 project expansion is an important milestone for Pilbara Minerals. This expansion step facilitates a major lift in production capacity, capitalizing on the substantial scale of this Tier-1 hard rock asset which underpins a ~25 year mine life at this new expanded production level.

"This reinforces the exceptional scale and quality of our Pilgangoora project, which is one of the few hard rock lithium production operations globally that has both the resource size and an existing operating platform to enable a rapid scale-up of production to capitalize on the growing demand for lithium products."

Pilbara Minerals is the leading ASX-listed 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 operation produces a spodumene and tantalite concentrate.

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