Lithium developer Pilbara Minerals’ proposed expansion to 5 million tonnes per annum production and processing at its Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum project in the Pilbara region has received a significant boost.
The ASX-listed company (ASX:PLS) – which is a nominee for the 2018 Craig Oliver award to be announced next week at the RIU Explorers Conference in Fremantle – today released the Pre-Feasibility Study assessing the expansion from 2Mtpa to 5Mtpa which delivered exceptional results.
Headline outcomes include a significant increase in the project’s Net Present Value (NPV10% post-tax) to over A$2 billion, production of circa 800,000 tonnes per annum of high-quality spodumene concentrate once the plant has achieved 5Mtpa, globally competitive cash operating costs and impressive financial metrics over a 17-year mine life.
“The compelling results of the Stage 2 PFS provided a clear pathway to unlock further value in the outstanding Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum resource and, in the process, cement its position as a globally significant, lowcost supplier of lithium raw materials for decades to come,” Pilbara Minerals’ Managing Director and CEO Ken Brinsden said.
“The exponential growth which is occurring across the lithium-ion supply chain as the industry in China and elsewhere gears up for transformational growth to meet demand from the automotive and energy storage sectors is now becoming better understood.
“It was against this backdrop that we commenced the Stage 2 expansion studies at Pilgangoora last year in parallel with construction of the Stage 1, 2Mtpa project.
The logic of this accelerated expansion strategy was underpinned both by the remarkable growth occurring in the market and the extraordinary success of our exploration team in growing the Pilgangoora Ore Reserve base to a level which underpinned a mine life of more than 40 years at the 2Mtpa production rate.
“An expansion to 5Mtpa was deemed to be the optimal production rate to unlock further value in the deposit and maximise the financial returns to shareholders. This decision has been fully vindicated by the PFS results, which have shown a significant improvement in several key areas compared to the 2Mtpa operation currently being constructed.”
Definitive Feasibility Study on the Stage 2 expansion is on track for completion by mid-2018, paving the way for a Final Investment Decision in Q3 2018, start of construction by Q4 2018 and commissioning from Q4 2019.
The company has completed DFS diamond drilling at the project while RC drilling is underway targeting further resource and reserve growth.
Pilbara Minerals is a nominee for the Craig Oliver award with the winner to be announced at the RIU Explorers Conference on Wednesday 21st February at 9:20am.
The award is presented annually to an ‘all round’, small-to-mid cap Australian mining company which has excelled in areas including exploration, mining, corporate, market results, environmental and community over the past 12 months.
The award is in memory of Craig Oliver who passed away on Saturday 16 June 2010 when the Sundance Resources plane he was on tragically crashed in the Congo with the loss of all people on board.
Mr Oliver made a lasting contribution to Australia’s mining sector over the course of his 20-year career.
Shares in Pilbara Minerals have closed 9.4% higher at 87c in Tuesday trade.