Plans to double production capacity at Altura Mining’s lithium and tantalum project in the Pilbara have received a boost with $26 million added to the lithium play’s bank balance.

Perth-based Altura (ASX:AJM) will use the cash — raised from a group of global investment funds — to kick-start work on a Stage 2 expansion study at the lithium project located at Pilgangoora in Western Australia.

Investors welcomed the news, bumping up Altura’s share price as much as 13 per cent to 30.5c in Friday lunchtime trade. Some 11.4 million shares changed hands by 12.15pm AEDT.

Altura aims to increase production to 450,000 tonnes per annum of spodumene concentrate, from the starting capacity of 220,000 t/pa.

The study will look at engineering designs for additional processing plant modules to deliver increased production, along with more water, power supply and logistics to support the additional production capacity.

A Stage 2 expansion feasibility study is expected early in 2018. The funds will also be spent on  exploration and general working capital.

Meanwhile, Stage 1 construction is on schedule for first lithium concentrate sales in the June quarter next year. Construction is fully funded from a $US110 million ($141 million) loan from US and Swiss-based investors in July.

Altura managing director James Brown said the $26 million placement was heavily oversubscribed and followed a successful investor roadshow in North America and the United Kingdom.

“We received a strong level of interest from international investors in how advanced the Altura Lithium Project already is and how the project could be expanded to meet growing global demand for lithium,” he said.

“We are only months away from first production and now investors see considerable upside in advancing our Stage 2 Expansion Study in order to capitalise on this opportunity.”

Project construction had passed the midway point.