Downstream Bottleneck Leads Pilbara Minerals to Limit Production

The Australian company’s Chinese offtake partners are taking longer than expected to construct chemical conversion facilities.

Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) has reported record monthly production at its Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum project in Western Australia, but says that it won’t be repeating recent successes due to bottlenecks in developing processing facilities in China.

In May, Pilgangoora produced 22,375 dry metric tonnes of spodumene concentrate, representing around 85 percent of its planned Stage 1 plant capacity, with full capacity projected to be 330,000 tonnes per year (or roughly 27,5000 tonnes per month).

However, Pilbara Minerals’ major offtake customers for Stage 1, China’s General Lithium and Ganfeng Lithium (SZSE:002460), have been taking longer than expected to construct, commission and ramp up new chemical conversion facilities in China.

The delays in General Lithium and Ganfeng Lithium’s work mean that Pilbara needs to limit production to avoid forcing too much lithium through what’s effectively a bottleneck.

“These delays in the development of new chemical conversion capacity by Pilbara Minerals’ Stage 1 customers has resulted in lower shipped tonnes from the Pilgangoora project during the June quarter, which are currently estimated to be in the range of 23 to 45 kilotonnes shipped, pending the departure dates for the remaining vessel(s) in the month of June,” said the company.

Pilbara Minerals is projecting spodumene concentrate production of between 20,000 and 24,000 tonnes in June. It believes that underlying demand for battery-ready lithium chemicals remains strong.

Production numbers are dependent on a six day shutdown of the concentrator on site, during which the company will perform works to improve recoveries. The shutdown is currently taking place.

A second shutdown will happen in July for more improvement works.

“It is no secret that the spodumene supply market is experiencing some short-term challenges as the big players, including our cornerstone customers, work to commission and ramp-up their chemical conversion plants in China,” said Pilbara Minerals Managing Director and CEO Ken Brinsden.

“We remain confident that the underlying fundamentals of the lithium market remain strong — as evidenced by the growing number of agreements being made by major car manufacturers further down the supply chain in both Chinese and global markets, to shore up lithium supply to meet their long-term (electric vehicle) production and energy storage market targets.”

Brinsden added that his company is receiving plenty of interest from potential offtake partners for the remainder of Stage 1 and Stage 2 output from the Pilgangoora project.

“This gives us confidence that major strategic players in the lithium industry share our view of the transformational opportunity that will continue to develop in the lithium raw materials sector over the next decade,” he explained.

Pilgangoora has been developing at a rapid pace, with its first spodumene concentrate shipped in October last year and its official opening in November.

Pilbara Minerals has also been weighing up the potential for a Stage 3 expansion due to customer demand. Stage 3 would see the project’s production increased dramatically.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Scott Tibballs, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Graphite Metallurgical Test Work Update


  • Bulk sample of Springdale graphite concentrate estimated to be completed in Q2 2021.
  • Concentrate material will then be sent to Germany to test its amenability for the production of battery anode material suitable for use in EVs.
  • Final test results expected in Q3 2021.

Comet Resources Ltd (ASX:CRL) is pleased provide an update on ongoing test work on natural flake graphite from its Springdale Graphite Project (Springdale) located in Western Australia. Both excellent grade and recoveries were achieved on initial tests, leading to commencement of work to produce a bulk sample for further testing. Importantly, the graphite concentrates previously produced demonstrated a unique and potentially very valuable characteristic in its small size distribution, with two-thirds of the product passing the 38 µm size fraction screen. Generally, this small size fraction of graphite is a by-product of processing of larger flake fractions, which produces smaller size graphite, but in doing so also damages the smaller flake material in the process, reducing their performance and value. Deposits that contain high quality ultra-fine graphite are uncommon and are potentially suitable for supplying the expanding battery anode market, which continues to grow as the sales of electric vehicles (EVs) increase. Graphite suitable for battery anode production also achieves premium pricing in graphite markets, making it a highly sought-after product.

Keep reading... Show less

Medallion Completes Diagnostic Testing with Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization

Medallion Resources Ltd. (TSX-V: MDL; OTCQB: MLLOF; Frankfurt: MRDN) “Medallion” or the “Company”) announces completion of a suite of diagnostic test work at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization (ANSTO) in Sydney, to extract rare earth elements (REE) from mineral sand monazite. The monazite was sourced from an Australian mineral sand mine. Discussion is ongoing with additional prospective suppliers.

Mineral sand monazite is an abundant REE-rich feedstock, that can be accessed as a by-product from global mineral-sand mines that target zirconium and titanium, without the need for additional mining. Medallion’s business model is centered on the Medallion Monazite Process , a transferable and scalable technology designed to accept multiple mineral-sand monazite feedstocks and extract high-value REEs with high efficiency, high recovery and zero liquid waste.

Keep reading... Show less

Galaxy Resources Limited Announcement

Galaxy Resources Limited (ASX: GXY) ( Company ) advises that the following announcements have been made to the Australian Securities Exchange which appears on the Company’s platform (ASX):

  • Corporate Presentation – Sal de Vida Development Plan
  • Sal de Vida development Plan
  • Sal de Vida Resource & Reserve Update
  • March 2021 Quarterly Results Conference Call
  • Notice of Annual General Meeting/ Proxy Form
  • 2020 Annual Report
  • 2020 Sustainability Report
  • 2020 Corporate Governance Statement
  • Appendix 4G

The announcement can be viewed at:

Keep reading... Show less

Torian Resources Limited Significant Gold Results from Surface at Mt Stirling

Perth, Australia (ABN Newswire) – Torian Resources Ltd (ASX:TNR) is pleased to advise that recent drilling results continue to extend the Mt Stirling Gold System over ~1.1km of Strike, ~300m at depth, and it remains open in multiple directions.


– The interpreted strike of the Mt Stirling gold system exceeds 1.160km with Mt Stirling Main Zone; Hanging Wall and Viserion lodes all remaining open along strike and down-dip.

Keep reading... Show less

eMetals Limited Updates Shareholders On Exploration – April 12, 2021

eMetals Limited (ASX:EMT) (eMetals or Company) is pleased to update shareholders on exploration activities which have commenced across the Company’s projects.


Keep reading... Show less

Top News

Related News