PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Lithium miner Pilbara Minerals has secured a $15-million working capital facility and $10-million foreign exchange hedging facility with BNP Paribas, in addition to a secured approval for a A$19.5-million concessional loan from the Australian government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF).
Pilbara Minerals on Tuesday said that the $15-million working capital facility and foreign exchange facility will support prudent risk and capital management during the company’s growth phase, coinciding with the commissioning and ramp-up phases for Stage 1 of the Pilgangoora lithium/tantalum project, and the proposed Stage 2 expansion project.
“We welcome the relationship with BNP Paribas, one of the leading metals and mining banks. BNP Paribas’ offer to Pilbara Minerals for the provision of the working capital and foreign exchange hedging facilities was competitively priced and demonstrates their strong commitment to developing a long-term partnership with the company in support of its growth ambitions,” said Pilbara MD and CEO Ken Brinsden.
Pilbara on Tuesday reported that the commissioning of the Stage 1 concentrator was progressing into the ramp-up of fines concentrates production for customer delivery.
The company noted that product specifications for both fines spodumene concentrate and primary tantalite concentrates were now consistent with saleable specifications, marking the achievement of another key milestone following the start of plant commissioning two months ago.
“Once the installed Stage 1 plant capacity has been fully ramped up to an annual production rate of approximately 45 000 t/y on a lithium carbonate equivalent basis, the Pilgangoora site will already be one of the world’s largest lithium raw material mines.
“That’s before we embark on the expected five-million tonne a year, Stage 2 expansion project,” Brinsden said.
“With our focus now shifting from commissioning the Stage 1 concentrator to the ramp-up of production towards steady-state levels, we have booked our first shipment from mid-September, which will mark another huge milestone for everyone involved in the project.
“From there, concentrate production should continue to increase each month, reaching designed plant tonnage throughput by the end of the calendar year.”
Meanwhile, in addition to the facilities with BNP Paribas, Pilbara on Tuesday confirmed the indicative commitment from NAIF for a A$19.5-million loan facility to assist in funding the upgrade of the Pippingarra road, connecting the Pilgangoora project to port infrastructure in Port Hedland.
Brinsden said that the NAIF loan will enable Pilbara to improve the operations of the project by allowing increased haulage payloads via larger trailer configurations to Port Hedland port, to deliver product to market. It will also facilitate the Pilgangoora project’s expansion, particularly the Stage 2 expansion.
The NAIF concessional loan is subject to final documentation and customary conditions precedent to drawdown, including final sign-off from the Western Australian state government.