Australian lithium developer, Pilbara Minerals Limited announced today that it has executed a binding terms sheet with Great Wall Motor Company, one of China’s largest automotive manufacturers, to further underpin the Stage 2 expansion of its 100%-owned Pilgangoora Lithium/Tantalum Project in Western Australia.
The agreement – encompassing up to 150,000tpa of Stage 2 chemical-grade spodumene concentrate off-take, Stage 2 debt financing support and a $28 million upfront equity subscription for Pilbara shares – represents the first direct investment by an automobile manufacturer into an upstream supplier of lithium raw materials.
“This marks an important milestone for Pilbara and the Pilgangoora Project and is a significant development for the rapidly evolving lithium-ion raw materials supply chain globally,” said Pilbara’s Managing Director and CEO, Ken Brinsden.
“It highlights the strategic importance for the global automotive sector of securing access to large-scale, consistent, high-quality sources of battery raw materials in low-risk jurisdictions. Attracting a company of Great Wall’s size and calibre as a long-term off-take and funding partner is a strong endorsement for the Pilgangoora Project and the Company. We are also delighted that they will be joining our share register as a strategic investor.
While this deal reflects the remarkable progress being made in China, we are also witnessing increasing interest from battery and automobile manufacturers outside of China looking to secure their future lithium requirements, in response to an increasing global market shift towards electric vehicles and off-grid storage.
In conjunction with the rapid expansion in spodumene conversion capacity currently being rolled out in China to supply the battery market beyond electric vehicles, these themes highlight the fundamental demand for lithium, which comes at an opportune time for the Company as we look to complete our Stage 1 development at Pilgangoora and pursue further growth via the Stage 2 expansion,” Mr Brinsden added.