Pilbara eyeing downstream processing

10th November 2017 By: Esmarie Iannucci - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia

Pilbara eyeing downstream processing

Pilbara Minerals MD and CEO Ken Brinsden
Photo by: Bloomberg

PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Lithium developer Pilbara Minerals has signed a nonbinding memorandum of understanding (MoU) to potentially develop a downstream lithium chemical conversion facility in South Korea.

The ASX-listed company on Friday noted that the MoU with Polaris Shipping and LG Chem would see Pilbara supply up to 30 000 t of lithium hydroxide to the South Korean lithium-ion battery industry.

MD and CEO Ken Brinsden told shareholders that the MoU represented an opportunity for Pilbara’s participation in one of the world’s most exciting and fastest growing markets for lithium raw materials outside of China.

“South Korea is a major global economic and industrial power with very large and rapidly growing high-technology industrial complex and automotive industry. Discussions like these represent an opportunity to work alongside two of South Korea’s leading conglomerates to participate in the development of a world-leading downstream lithium chemicals facility servicing the rapidly growing lithium-ion battery industry in South Korea.”

Brinsden said that these discussions were consistent with Pilbara’s broader objective to participate in downstream chemical facilities where it made sense for the company as an upstream supplier of spodumene concentrate, and to diversify Pilbara’s global sales arrangements.

“Given the scale of the existing resource and reserve at Pilgangoora, and the potential to continue to grow it with ongoing drilling, we have plenty of capacity to support both our existing customers in China and new customers elsewhere. Its fair to say that Korean lithium raw material demand is now well and truly on the radar.”

The Pilgangoora project is expected to produce an average of 314 000 t/y of 6% spodumene concentrate and 321 000 lb/y of tantalite, over a mine life of 36 years.