An aerial shot of Altura's Pilgangoora mine. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

Altura in $US15m debt raise

Tuesday, 11 September, 2018 - 11:41

Lithium producer Altura Mining has secured an additional $US15 million of debt funding to support a second stage expansion and the ongoing ramp-up of its Pilgangoora operation, after officially opening the project last week.

Altura scored a $US110 million debt deal in July last year to fund the first phase of the project, which will produce 220,000 tonnes per annum of lithium concentrate.

The first shipment is due in coming weeks.

Stage one had a capital cost of around $151 million.

A final investment decision on the project’s second stage, which would double capacity to 440,000tpa, is due by the end of the year.

A definitive feasibility study for stage two has already been completed.

The latest debt raising deal is with existing noteholders, and is on the same terms as the agreement last year.

The company noted it had decided not to issue further equity to avoid dilution for shareholders.

“The additional funds will ensure the efficient ramp-up of commissioning towards nameplate capacity at the Altura lithium project, continued exploration of the company’s portfolio of tenements and ongoing work on the stage two expansion, which targets a doubling of production to 440,000tpa in the first half of 2020,” Altura managing director James Brown said.

Altura’s Pilgangoora operation is the seventh lithium mine in Western Australia, with others to recently open including Tawana Resources’ Bald Hill mine and and Pilbara Minerals’ Pilgangoora project.

At the world’s largest lithium mine, Greenbushes, owned by Talison Lithium, there is a plan under way to triple capacity to be nearly 2mtpa of lithium concentrate.

Prospect path

Another lithium hopeful, Subiaco-based Prospect Resources, announced it had received a debt facility for its Arcadia project in Zimbabwe.

The deal will mean a $US10 million funding facility for Prospect's 70 per cent owned Zimbabwean subsidiary.

That will be provided by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

"The facility carries an interest rate of 7.5 per cent and a capital repayment holiday of 12 months, after which monthly capital repayments are to be made for 24 months," the company said in a release today.

"The purpose of the Export Finance Facility is to foster the development of existing and new export focused businesses in Zimbabwe.

"Funds drawn from the Facility are expected to be used to meet local costs on the mine development including the construction of the tailings facility, pre-strip of the mine site and building construction."