Construction of the Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum mine in Western Australia is powering ahead according to its owner Altura Mining, who has just boosted its coffers to the tune of $US33 million.

The funds are the first tranche of a $US110 million ($140 million) debt facility Altura (ASX:AJM) secured from leading US and Swiss-based investment management groups late last month. The second tranche of $US77 million is scheduled to settle on or before 27 September.

The Perth-based company advised it had made significant progress to complete conditions precedent required for drawdown of the tranche 2 funds.

The $US110 million will be used for construction, commissioning and start of production and sales from the project.

Commissioning and production is expected to commence in first quarter 2018 with first sales of spodumene concentrate planned for second quarter 2018.

A Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS), completed in September 2016, highlighted a very attractive project with a long mine life of 13 years, producing an average of 220ktpa of spodumene concentrate over the life of mine at a cash cost of $316/t.

Last month, Altura locked in a binding offtake for a minimum of 100,000tpa with its largest shareholder – Chinese battery manufacturer J&R Optimum Energy – while also being set to supply a similar amount of concentrate to “lithium product specialist group” Lionergy.

Pilgangoora is located in the Pilbara region, approximately 123km drive from the town of Port Hedland and is among the largest spodumene projects in the world.

The Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum project lies close to established transport infrastructure and Port Hedland. Picture: Altura Mining 

Lithium is a soft silvery white metal which is highly reactive and does not occur in nature in its elemental form. A key growth area is its use in lithium batteries as a power source for a wide range of applications including consumer electronics and electric vehicles.

Tantalum is mainly used is in capacitors for consumer electronics, particularly where long battery life and high performance is required such as smart phones, tablets and laptops.

Shares in Altura were at 17.7c at 12.30pm AEST. The stock has a market cap of roughly $277 million.


This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.