Delays to the construction of chemical conversion capacity at
Ganfeng Lithium and General Lithium resulted in
lower-than-expected sales of lithium spodumene through the
April-June quarter, leading to a reduction in Pilbara
Minerals’ output through June and July, the
Australian company said on Monday June 17.
Pilbara Minerals said the delays in the commissioning of
chemical conversion capacity is an industry-wide situation in
The delays have resulted in lower volumes being shipped from
Pilbara Minerals’ Pilgangoora Project in Western
Australia in the June quarter, the company added.
Pilbara Minerals’ expects to ship 23,000-45,000
tonnes of lithium spodumene in the April-June quarter. The
company sold 38,562 tonnes in January-March.
"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," Pilbara
Minerals’ managing director and chief executive
Ken Brinsden said.
"We have decided to proactively respond to this by working
with our long-term partners to assist them where possible
during this period. This means that over the coming months we
will be moderating production levels to better align our
business with expected spodumene demand and use this time to
deliver key improvements at the plant," he added.
Pilbara Minerals produced 22,375 tonnes of lithium spodumene
concentrate in May and expects to produce 20,000-24,000 tonnes
in June. The company produced 52,196 tonnes in the
Pilbara Minerals did not specify by how much it would cut
production at its Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum project, but
said it will shut down the concentrator in the second half of
July for two weeks to facilitate plant improvement
Reduced production will give time for Ganfeng and General
Lithium to add conversion capacity. At the same time, Pilbara
Minerals said it will be working with the two companies to
manage their commitments and it expects both companies to
fulfil their current offtake agreements.
Prices were reported lower at $600-640 per tonne of lithium
spodumene on a cfr China and a minimum 6% basis due to the
current lower demand for spodumene in China and lower lithium
chemical compound prices in the country. This is down from $675
per tonne in the first quarter of the year.
Fastmarkets IM’s latest price assessment for
contract spodumene (min 5-6% Li2O) cif China was $600-670 per
tonne on May 29, down from $600-700 per tonne on April 24.
Pilbara Minerals stage 1 production has a production target
of 330,000 tonnes per year of lithium spodumene - or nearly
43,000 tpy of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) - for June
2018 to 2020.
Stage 2 of the expansion project is set to commence in the
September quarter of 2020 to increase the
company’s total output by as much as 850,000 tpy
of lithium spodumene, (110,000 tpy LCE).
Lithium spodumene concentrate is used to produce key battery
raw materials lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide.