Altura’s lithium spodumene sales soar in Q2; ramps up production

Australian lithium spodumene producer Altura Mining sold 38,600 tonnes of lithium spodumene in the June quarter, up by 161% from 14,770 tonnes sold during the March quarter, it said on Friday June 21.

The company exported lithium spodumene with a grade of approximately 6% at an average price of $601 per tonne in the first quarter of 2019 and expects similar results for the second quarter.

Fastmarkets’ monthly spodumene (min 5-6% Li2O) contract price was assessed at $600-670 per tonne cif China on May 29, down from $600-700 per tonne on April 24.

Lithium spodumene is the main raw material used in production of lithium carbonate and hydroxide, and falling prices in China of these two compounds over the past year have weighed on the lithium spodumene price.

Altura produced 15,737 tonnes of lithium spodumene in May and anticipates surpassing this production in the month of June, while delivering daily production rates of up to 90% of the project nameplate.

“We are seeing better consistency across the operation with the performance of the plant close to where we expect it to be on a steady-state basis. The production performance has resulted in strong quarterly sales with June currently on track to better the May production record,” James Brown, Altura managing director, said.

“Feedback from offtake customers continues to be positive with our shipments consistently delivering min 6% quality concentrate with low iron, low mica and optimal moisture content,” he added.

The Pacific Pioneer vessel was loaded with 13,700 tonnes of Altura’s lithium spodumene on June 19, closing June-quarter sales and making this vessel the single largest cargo of Altura material.

The company produced 29,627 tonnes of lithium spodumene in the first three months of 2019, up by 14.86% from 25,794 tonnes produced in October-December 2018 quarter.

This news hit the market at the same time as reports Pilbara Minerals will restrict its lithium spodumene production in June and July at the Pilgangoora mine due to delays in the commissioning of chemical conversion capacity by the company’s offtakers in China.

More details to follow with June quarterly results.