Pilbara sees lithium price rebound ahead

Pilbara Minerals boss Ken Brinsden says demand fundamentals in the beaten-down lithium market have started to improve and he expects pricing to follow (reports The West Australian).
15th October 2020
Resources Rising Stars

Pilbara Minerals boss Ken Brinsden says demand fundamentals in the beaten-down lithium market have started to improve and he expects pricing to follow (reports The West Australian).

The market for lithium concentrate cratered in 2019 after the world’s biggest buyer China changed its electric vehicle subsidy scheme causing widespread disruption and indigestion across the supply chain.

But Mr Brinsden told delegates today at the annual Diggers and Dealers Mining Forum in Kalgoorlie that Europe had become a bigger electric vehicle market than China in the past 12 months because of the European Green Deal, which had introduced subsidies for electric vehicles.

“Within the space of 12 months, the world has literally flipped on its head,” he said.

“Europeans are now crawling all over the China supply chain and that is fantastic news for WA because China relies predominantly on West Australian spodumene supply.

“We’re not quite popping the champagne corks but there’s been a material change in the customer base and they are stepping up to the mark and they’re back with a buying mode albeit with a backdrop of weak pricing.”

Mr Brinsden also noted improved electric vehicle demand had improved in China itself.

The company was last year forced to slow production its flagship Pilgangoora mine south of Port Hedland on the back of weak demand and sliding prices for its lithium concentrate.

“In the periods of time the plant wasn’t operating, the team was using that time very, very wisely to the point that we now have an outstanding facility that delivers the designed results,” Mr Brinsden said.

Pilbara reported today it had increased production in the September quarter to 62,404t of spodumene concentrate, compared with 34,484t for the June quarter and reduced costs to $US355/t.

Mr Brinsden said Pilgangoora’s costs were second only to the Greenbushes lithium mine in the State’s South West, which is widely regarded as the biggest and most profitable mine of its kind in the world.

 

Image: Pilgangoora - Jagcor Civil Construction

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